I recently returned to practicing law having worked for a medium sized business on both legal and non-legal matters. At an entrepreneurial function, a contact of mine introduced me to someone as: "a real business lawyer because he actually understands what an entrepreneur goes through day-to-day."
A friend of mine runs a successful business with his vice-president handling the day-to-day end of it. I asked him how he ended up hiring this employee. As it turns out, the employee was his account manager for services he purchased. The employee asked him how he could join him and my friend responded: "run a business for a year and maybe we can talk." Sure enough, this gentleman quit his corporate job, ran a business for a year and contacted him. Impressed with his dedication, my friend hired him.
What do these two stories have in common?
Small and medium sized business owners place a high value on empathy. Specifically, they want to know that you understand the slings and arrows they go through every single day. If you have suffered them before or understand them, their level of respect for you generally tends to be higher which means a greater chance they may buy from you.
See how my friend handled his employee when he was an account manager? In essence, he said you can only work with me if you get out of the glass tower and understand the daily life of an entrepreneur.
One final story then some tips. Real estate agents often lease high-priced vehicles to give their clients the aura of success. I find that this tends to back-fire if you are wooing a potential small business client not interested in the currency of status. In fact, driving up in a high-priced car may provoke the opposite reaction as in: "I see where your commission is going-to maintain your life-style." Like attract like so understand the market you are serving.
The moral of these stories?
1. Don't be just a suit. Be a suit that understands small business.
2. Don't be afraid to show your entrepreneurial credibility. Working in or coming from a family of entrepreneurs gets you far.
3. Any tips or referral to help your small business clients will put you ahead of your competition. After all, you are implicitly saying you understand the day-to-day life of your customers or potential customers.
Labels: Albert Luk