To be a successful business owner, do you have to act like the stereotypical business person? Ruthless, cutthroat, a master of persuasion (or lying), and a top notch negotiator? Do you have to play by those kinds of rules or constantly get taken advantage of because your a nice person?
I don’t think so and my experience running a business so far is supporting that belief, although it is taking a little longer for things to work out than I’d like. That’s part of playing a long term game.
We would probably have more money in the bank account right now if our goal was solely to make money. We’d have different policies – for example, we would ask for payments during our at the beginning of projects rather than waiting until the end. We also would change our pricing so that we got paid for all the hours we worked rather than using fixed bids.
In addition to having different policies, we’d negotiate harder. If we knew someone was in a tight spot we might “play hardball” and negotiate for a much higher rate or other benefits.
But on the flip side, we may have the clients we have because of our policies and the fact that those policies embody who we are and what we believe. We had one client say that he wanted to work with us to help us succeed. With different policies we may not have found anyone to work with.
Either way, we’re going to try to stay true to ourselves. To me, this means bring the nice guy who hates negotiation and just won’t do it. And if someone takes advantage of our kindness? They don’t get to work with us again. Their loss.