As an entrepreneur, it can feel daunting to stand out in a sea of similar products or services. Many times, entrepreneurs get caught up jockeying for business by focusing solely on the end results: e.g. double the placements, a faster project timeline, cheaper budget.
It’s never intentional but when entrepreneurs focus only on the outputs of a project, more often than not they end up betraying the process that is required to achieve top-notch results for the client.
What I’ve come to learn is that the best way to stand out is to treat your process as your product. Have enough confidence in your professional capabilities to boldly position your process as part of the experience and results of a partnership.
If you don’t respect your process, you’ll have a hard time getting clients to do so. A few things to know as you begin to incorporate your process into your overall product:
- You’re Original: Your process is yours. Simply put, no one on this earth approaches professional opportunities or challenges the way that you do. Your unique perspective shapes the way that you approach working with clients to achieve desired results. In the pitch process, many clients will ask you to showcase your abilities by asking you to complete a project for review. If you decide to engage in this exercise, focus on your approach and provide enough information to paint a picture of the overall partnership, rather than the nitty gritty. Spoiler Alert: if clients require you to reveal everything to land a job, they aren’t a client you want to work with.
- Be Clear About Your Process: When pitching a new client, it’s worthwhile to take the proper amount of time to foster the client’s understanding of the working relationship. If a project is done in phases or over a length of time, don’t only communicate what is happening in each phase by why it takes a specific amount of time to complete each phase. Most businesses only focus on the outputs and miss a key component in keeping stakeholders informed of the steps it takes to get to the output
- Honor Your Time: Dedicating time to work with a client will help to ensure focus for both parties and allow you to keep deadlines and move projects to completion. While an occasional reschedule of a meeting or working late hours can arise, setting the tone with clients upfront about your time availability will allow for more productive discussions and meetings. As an entrepreneur remember that you have the power to control your schedule – it’s one of the largest perks of the job.
When I work with clients that value my process as part of my product, I am able to exceed expectations and deliver meaningful results as I can be creative and fully engaged. I choose not to sweat it when opportunities disappear because someone else has positioned a shortcut flash-in-the-pan win to ensure temporary success.
The truth is, I’m not always the most economical option for clients. I’m not always willing to compromise unnecessarily to meet aggressive deadlines. But what I do stand on is that my process is better than anyone else’s – if for no other reason than because it’s mine.
I’ve found that once you cultivate your own respect for your process the opportunities and clients that are on your frequency start to come more naturally and you can find true satisfaction in the work that you do.
Entrepreneurship requires your full confidence in your work ethic, education, and professional experience. Have trust in your process. And charge appropriately for it.