In the last month I’ve received two bits of news that have slightly knocked me off balance. One involved the oh so marvellous blind dog Ellie and the other, a fantastic client. Ellie, having visited the vet with a lump on her leg, was diagnosed with life-limiting arthritis; at the age of just 4. It was a huge blow; her joints were that of an 11 year old dog. How could an animal who has challenges thrown at her from birth, then be hit with more bad news? It seemed so unfair.
Regarding Kinnear Creative, we know that having multiple clients makes having your own business an exciting yet topsy-turvy affair; bounding around on peaks and in troughs. Sometimes you hit the jackpot with a fantastic project and an appreciative and understanding client, and at others times, the project is good yet the client is a challenge; they maybe don’t truly understand the work involved or how the process works. Well, I am very happy to write that every project Kinnear Creative has had, has ended with smiles and a satisfied client. Perfect you may think? Well no. This week the fabulous peak client has become a challenge. Why? Because the project has run to its natural conclusion and the work will now go in-house. So how does one handle this, emotionally?
I mention emotionally, because the other aspects; the financial, are inevitable, and any good business owner should always have this end in their mind; I’m known for making hay when the sun shines; and another metaphor; I don’t put all my eggs in one basket. You literally can’t afford to become complacent with projects; as a consultant or agent you’re often one of the first things to be cut for example when you’re a victim of your own success; the project grows arms and legs and so the client requires a permanent in-house employee or when a company department hits financial pressure. That’s fine, and that’s right. But how do you cope emotionally?
Often over the years you have created a bond with the client; you start saying “we’ instead of “you’ in meetings; your friends and family know that you’re not free on certain days. This week, I had to take a deep breath when I read the Dear John letter. Yes, it was a Dear John letter; I couldn’t help seeing it like this; I hold the client and their business in very high esteem and I’ll admit my lip quivered for a mere moment. But then, remembering all the ‘turn that frown upside down’ teachings, I had to turn this situation into an opportunity. Just as I have done with the Ellie-meister.
If I hadn’t investigated what was a small lump on Ellie, she wouldn’t have been sedated for the x-ray. It was when she was sedated that the vet started doing an overall check; and he discovered that further up the leg, unrelated to the lump, her elbows hardly moved. Curious, he x-rayed these parts too. And the rest is history; she’s riddled, the poor thing, but due to her blindness her strange running style was put down to her feeling the terrain with her paws.
The important thing to keep in mind is that the arthritis had been there all along, just like the inevitable end to my fantastic project with the fantastic client. The test was in how I handled the news. With Ellie, I drew up a plan; my husband and I researched what we could do to make her life more comfortable and not debilitated. I rather got into it and I found a new sense of purpose; I was going to make this dog even happier. I had been given an opportunity to understand her further and build an even better future. And this is what I have done with my client.
I replied to the Dear John letter with the opening line:
“As the expression goes: All good things must come to an end; and in this case, it was a great thing … Whatever success comes your way, you truly deserve it with knobs on!”
The client responded with a LOL, the acceptance of my request for conciliatory drinks and a promise of supporting my search for the next big client. And I know they will, and the chances are I’ll work with them again. I passed the test and feel great about it. Business is Business; you work as you live: “Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain!” Vivian Green.
I am of course chuffed to write that this is by no means an end of the marvellous Ellie. Oh no; this is the start of a new chapter; a chapter that sees Ellie losing 3 kg (not one gramme has come off yet in three weeks, but that’s a whole new story), and taking tablets everyday, which she swallows with gusto, as if they were penny chews.
There’s nothing wrong with allowing emotions into business; how can you be passionate about something without emotion? The test is how you handle these emotions in the peaks and the troughs. I’m not perfect at it yet, and probably never will be, but I certainly feel that this month I deserve at least a B+.