When I was younger, I used to go around asking everyone I met to tell me the best piece of business advice they’d ever received. I collected a lot of good quotes and tips but this one stopped me cold.
You see, up until that point, it had never occurred to me that earning a living costs you something. And I’m not talking about the “gotta spend money to make money” kinds of costs. I’m talking about what you pay from your life – your time, your energy, your heart, your soul and all too often, your dignity and self-respect.
A recent blog post from Ellen Boughn reminded me of how important this concept really is. Ellen decided to walk away from a lucrative writing client because she realized that their ‘edit-by-committee’ approach was robbing her of her voice and, more importantly, her confidence.
I know from my own experience that working with the wrong clients can be worse than not working at all. In these tough economic times, it’s hard to sacrifice short-term profits but we all need to pay attention to the long-term costs. Preserving our confidence translates directly into long-term growth as we cannot produce the kind of outstanding work necessary to move our careers and businesses forward without it.
In the world of big business, in survey after survey, employees consistently report that financial compensation levels have little bearing on their job performance, satisfaction or desire to stay with the company. This concept shouldn’t just hold true for employees. As business owners, we also need to recognize when projects or clients cost us more than they are worth.