While it may not be realistic to visit each client at their business, whenever possible, doing so blurs the lines between business and life and turns 'work' into an amazing experience and a great memory!
A couple of weeks ago, I visited Donna Little, owner of the Quaker Tavern B&B (and my aunt 😊), to visit her bed and breakfast to see how she operates before creating her new website. In the process, I learned how Donna runs her business, saw how hospitable she is for her guests, and realized why her guests love to stay with her - because she is the most fabulous host anyone could ask for and staying at her B&B makes you want to live there (seriously)!
When I started Proxy I knew that most of the marketing work that I would do would be remote. My clients are scattered across the east coast from Maine to Georgia and I have great advisors and awesome contractors in Atlanta - all while I work from home in New Hampshire. This means as long as a I have a laptop and a phone, there is no barrier to getting work done. However, I now know how visiting a client's business can create a better final product, is a lot of fun, and helps build relationships. And why not build great relationships if you ACTUALLY enjoy what you are doing!
By visiting your clients (even if they are friends or family members) you step into their world and gain a better understanding of how important your responsibility is to do the best job you possibly can to help them with their marketing (or whatever it is you are providing) because their business is their livelihood. My business is my livelihood as well, but when you see how your clients operate their business it gives you more information to better shape the work you are doing for them and to make a real and noticeable difference.
I know this can backfire on me. I am explaining how much there is to gain by visiting clients when in all reality I know I can't visit every client in the future. But knowing this early on has been important and has already given me ideas to ensure I create this same or similar connection virtually. It has also made me build into my business plan a strategy to focus on quality vs. quantity. Quality of work and quality of clients instead of thinking now that I need to have an excess of clients. This could also backfire! I can't believe I am saying that I am not focused on having a ton of clients! But by having a few amazing clients that I can dedicate myself to is more important to me than having too many clients and being spread too thin. And having fewer clients also offers more of an opportunity to visit the clients I have or to spend more time with them virtually.
To give you an idea of how I began to think like this I'll give an overview of my stay at Quaker Tavern B&B.
When I visited Donna I stayed one night, arriving on a Friday and leaving on Saturday afternoon. On the first night we went into town (in Portland) and did what people do when they come to Maine - ate lobster! She then gave me a tour of the city and taught me about the history of the port. After a quick tour we got late night Dairy Queen sundaes at the same DQ that she has gone to for more than 40 years.
The feeling of being on vacation began to sink in - or maybe this is just what life is going to start feeling like from now on as an entrepreneur?
The next day we greeted a couple from Connecticut that was staying with her while attending a wedding. Then Donna cooked me waffles that literally melted in my mouth and if I didn't force myself to stop, I would have just kept eating them until we ran out of batter. Finally I got down to business and took photos of her property for the website.
During all of this time though in this 24 hour span Donna taught me about her life and her business which are intertwined, stories about her guests that travel from all over the world to stay with her, her goals, and everything you could imagine one would talk about when talking passionately about their business.
I tell you all of this because there is a priceless value to creating bonds with clients that goes far beyond business. Business is what we do, not who we are.
This trip to Maine to visit Donna Little and Quaker Tavern B&B for 24 hours taught me a lesson about business and about life. And I now know after working since I was 15 years old that Business and Life need to be ONE, they need to be intertwined, and if they aren't, Life or Business could be better!
Special thanks to Donna Little for hosting me and for such an enjoyable experience working with her and welcoming me into her home!
I look forward to working with new clients in the future and creating new memories like this one by becoming part of my clients businesses and their lives just as they become part of my business and my life too.
If you are interested in staying at the Quaker Tavern B&B or are interested in seeing the new website I created for Donna you can visit her site here: QuakerTavern.com
Adam Hill is founder of Proxy, a marketing agency for small businesses.