Ouch! Lesson Learnt!

Whenever I tell people I have my own business, they always think it’s a breeze.  Of course, these are generally people who are employed and just see the ‘glamourous’ side of being in control!


Being in control is very attractive, don’t get me wrong.  As is the responsibility.  Chasing and winning business.  Devising and delivering an employment programme or mental health/well being workshop which is well received is hugely satisfying.


I have the best job and know from the feedback forms my work benefits people and really makes a difference.


Of course everything is about ‘balance’.  The downside to running your own business is no paid holidays or sick leave.  Corporation tax, VAT and personal taxation.  All with looming penalties if not paid on time.


But the biggest downside to me – the ‘ouch’ moment is trusting the wrong people/company.


I always thought working with a large company – national or global was a strong indicator of integrity and ‘on time payments’!  After all – brand reputation is key. Isn’t it?


However, I’ve learnt the size of a company is irrelevant to their intention to pay.  After two solid months of chasing a global company for payment of my invoice following a completed job in early January has been ignored.  Now I have no alternative other than accept they are not going to pay and write the money off as a bad debt.  Maybe the lesson is larger companies have the financial clout to fight court cases and delay payment as long as they want.


What has been most disappointing is the directors I dealt with in the months leading up to the work I carried out for them have not paid the invoice themselves and then put through on expenses – they’ve just said ‘there’s nothing we can do’.


So, what is the lesson? for me despite the research, signed contract, signed authorised costs if a company doesn’t want to pay, there are few options for a small business to take.  The only remedy I can see, is not work for the company concerned again, but also check myself against thinking every new business will be as dishonourable.


We have to take a chance, don’t we?

The pitfalls of sharing too much knowledge with potential clients……………..

It’s a difficult balance when meeting a potential new client between giving them too much insight to your expertise and not enough.


I have worked in employment for decades – well, 2 at least! and the mental health arena for 6+ years.  So I think I’m a good judge of character – but am I?


Over the almost three years I have had my consultancy I’ve openly and readily shared by ideas and knowledge.  This approach has gained good relationships with new clients.


A few months back, I was approached to meet with a software organisation who wanted to increase their training and support for their time challenged staff.  We discussed various options and I left them with three pages of workshops I run, tasks and challenges as well as links to bespoke videos and websites.


My intention was to showcase my knowledge and the diverse tools I use.  Unfortunately, with hindsight, I had actually left them with the tools to run something themselves!


After hearing nothing for a couple of months, I got in touch to discover they had put something together and would get in touch if necessary!


Of course, they haven’t got in touch.


What is the answer?  I’m not sure there is an answer that covers all clients.  Consultants need to show what they can do and will always risk their knowledge being used against them.  Happily there is more integrity in business than this one particular organisation.


One happy thought I have is my knowledge is still helping their staff – even if I didn’t get paid for it!