Earlier this year I was fed up with the accounting business I’d built to satisfy others – clients, coaches, staff. It had become a mess of compromises I was making to keep everyone else happy.
I didn’t want my next 10 years in business to be like my first 10. Something had to change. I needed to start running my business more like I thought it should be run … as opposed to what other people told me it should be run like.
Turning 50 had also made me more audacious because none of us know how long we’re here. So if I was going to do this, I’d do it all guns blazing.
I looked at everything in my business, starting with my website and how I was going to work with others. Basically, anything client facing.
I knew I’d need help making the changes I wanted. I was sceptical that I could find someone who’d ‘get me’, who’d help me express myself and how I wanted to work professionally. They couldn’t be boring, conventional or safe. And they had to be good enough to make what I wanted real … rather than be forced to make sacrifices and lose what I wanted because they weren’t ‘good enough’.
I assumed such a beast was going to be a rare and difficult find, but I found four possibilities. Three were, by my standards, boring and conventional and didn’t inspire me. Shelly Davies’ website was the last one I looked at and I knew I’d found someone special.
The starting point was rewriting my client agreement. Everything I do and how I want to do it flows from that, so it was important to set the tone from the start. I wanted something that reflected how I work, what I expect from my clients and what they can expect from me so everyone’s clear.
I was mindful people don’t read legal agreements that are traditionally boring and full of jargon, so we got rid of that. For a document to be legally binding, it doesn’t have to use lawyer-y words. It just has to be clear and unambiguous. That doesn’t exclude its ability to have some personality!
The agreement is now refreshingly real to the point it includes the odd swear word, lots of humour and a “dickhead clause”. It even caught the eye of the judges in this year’s Plain English Awards. Infinite Possibilities is a finalist in the best plain English legal document and the best plain English turnaround categories.
Everything in my business is now 100 per cent me. It’s authentic and quirky! It allows people to decide up front whether they like the way I want us to work together. Now that’s liberating – for both me and my clients.