“They have a signed contract with me! It’s not fair. We won’t hit our financial targets this quarter because of this, which is the worst possible timing,” I listened as my client vented.
Over time, as Melissa’s business grew, she landed larger contracts. The day she won her first $250K project, she told me the best part was the client needed it finished within 90 days. She knew to rely on one client for all the revenue in a quarter was a risk, but the lure of $250K in 90 days was irresistible. She called her other clients and negotiated extensions so she could fit in the new contract. She was ready.
The day before the kickoff, her heart almost stopped when she opened her email. The board of directors was suspending all new contracts! Her project was put on indefinite hold.
She was angry. She had cleared the schedule for her entire company and had nothing else planned for the team to do.
“I can’t call my other clients back and tell them we suddenly now have capacity after I asked for an extension. They’ll know something is wrong and rumors about our company will damage our reputation!” Her mind was spinning and she couldn’t think clearly.
Thoughts vs. Facts
Melissa believes her thoughts are facts. She thinks she’s just reporting the news. But it’s not a fact that she won’t hit her goals and that there is nothing for her staff to do, because it hasn’t happened—this is a projection of what she thinks might happen in the future. Future events are never a fact.
As much as she believes “it’s not fair” – from the perspective of the board who put the contract on hold, they think it’s fair. They believe they’re doing the responsible thing to protect their organization.
It’s also not a fact that she can’t call her other clients to let them know she has capacity. She can call them back; nothing is physically preventing her. What’s preventing her is the thought “They’ll know something is wrong!” Not only is this a completely optional thought, thinking it causes her to feel bad, which prevents her from taking the action she must take to get her revenue back on track.
“How do you want to feel when you make the calls?” I ask.
“Confident,” she replies.
“And what thoughts create that feeling for you?”
She said, “When I remember how much value that my company and team provide and tell myself that we’re the best in our field, then I feel confident. When I think that way, I don’t believe my clients are doing me a favor by giving us work. Instead, I know that we’re delivering real value and providing solutions they need!”
How to Create Results
Here’s what Melissa decided to think and the result she achieved:
“My largest contract is on hold. To find work for my staff, I think about how much value we add and how much our clients need the solutions we provide. This makes me feel confident, and I contact three of my clients letting them know we now have the capacity for their projects. I offer them start dates in the next week, and the result is that two of the three say yes and I have work for my staff.”
She also made two business decisions that made her company stronger and increased its value in the long run. The first was to never allow one client to account for more than 15 percent of her revenue. (In fact, insurance companies charge higher premiums if you exceed that number.) The second decision was to charge a nonrefundable deposit of 30 percent for every contract over $100k. Putting these practices in place made her feel more confident because she was setting the rules.
Running your business is two journeys: the outer journey and the inner journey.
In this case, the outer journey resulted in two new policies to strengthen the business and make it more valuable. The inner journey was learning to question automatic thoughts, see how they limit our choices and intentionally choose new thoughts that will lead to the results we want.