Why The Fortune Cookie Approach to Business Planning WILL Land You in Trouble
We were recently approached by a large agency to do some ‘white label’ work for them. That is, for us to deal with their client’s marketing and sales funnel work and the other agency claims the work as their own. In practice it happens frequently and forms the backbone of work for agencies. The thing, the glue that makes sure these arrangements work well is that the two businesses involved are a great fit and get on. Everything else falls into place if that is present. It’s easy to do the deal.
Be a good fit
On this occasion everything was in place, great fit, good team and contracts were signed fast. A no-brainer by everyone’s standards. So, an easy ‘Yes’, so what about the many times it’s an equally easy ‘No’?
Mayhem or planning?
A couple of months before the end of last year we were approached by a sole owned agency who wanted some help (of the white label variety) on WordPress sites. As with all such approaches we have a tried and tested process/standard questions that we go through. We asked some questions on strategy, how business came in to them, what contracts were in place (essential as we rely on the cash flow of the other agency with their clients to get paid ourselves), how work was planned and proposal types. Pretty routine stuff. Except it wasn’t, not only was it not routine, it wasn’t there. Nothing – nada – to support the business relationship, but more worryingly nothing in place for their business to function or to get paid.
It was all fluffy with lots of cafe chats, networking contacts and pub lunches with clients, agreements on a handshake and few notes. Messy, and flawed. The fortune cookie approach to business. You know, the sort of luck that a cookie message gives out to whoever breaks it open ‘you will be rich’, ‘you have put bad fortune behind you’, ‘trust all is well’ etc. A wing and a prayer, blind hope and drifting into a business relationship will not help you when there is a dispute, a problem or even a misunderstanding.
It’s not about putting together a war and peace plan nor making it hard for people to do business with you; it’s about something clean and clearly laid out so everyone knows what is going on. If you are having a web site built you want to be sure, at the early stages, that everything you need is in there. That’s what the proposal is for. You want to make sure it looks like the idea in your head. That’s what the draft layout is for, so, by the time you get to the end of the job, there is not a massive snagging list and damaged dreams.
Keep to the plan
It often happens as work develops that the business you are building a site for, or indeed any service being offered, will have a need for some changes; these can be accommodated in most cases. So, as off-plan work carries additional costs, imagine what’s going to happen if the original work is not specified in sufficient detail? Instead of a seamless transition to another order you end up arguing over the detail you neglected to attend to at the start. This is a risk accelerator of the high octane kind with a greater likelihood for not being promptly paid for the job, ending up in litigation and with all the associated bruising of your bank balance.
Who wants that in their life? Not us, so the lack of planning and attention to the detail that mattered meant in this case that the business owner couldn’t grow his business with us. Not the end of the world? Of course not, there are loads of agencies ready to do WordPress on a white label basis. That pool gets a little smaller if we restrict it only to those who understand the market this owner was commissioned for, but there are some nevertheless.
All of those who want to stay in business of course have similar processes to us, so the bar just got higher and the deadlines got tighter. The lack of planning created stress, pressure and desperation instead of relationship building. We knew this as weeks after the first approach he came back to us offering more money for us to do the work and we still couldn’t help. His lack of contracts and by then an upset client meant the risk was growing higher daily.
Spot it early and recover
Where are you guilty of fortune cookie hope in your business? Spot it early enough and you can fix it so much faster than you’ll ever fix the risk it’s creating for you.
For help in moving from fortune cookie to sleep-easy planning in your business talk to us. You can also join us on one of our free webinars to learn more about making your life a little bit easier and your business life more balanced too. There are lots of opportunities in business and the smarter owner opens those which will yield results for their business and shuts the door on the rest.