Business etiquette, participation and commitment, as opposed to slash and burn.

Think of a project, any project. Now, remember how it worked out. Did it go as planned? Was there a plan? Seriously, there has to be a plan for things to work out as promised: on time and delivering all the aspects agreed upon, but in a way that helps all those involved to feel respected and valuable in the process. That’s what I call a successful project, but have you considered risk management as part of your plan?

For instance, over the years I learned of a few businesses that have been at the mercy of poor etiquette from their customers. They did their due diligence on everything they could by investigating the clients requirements and checking they were ready to start, got some way in to delivering the product and then… nothing!

Some clients break contact without explaining what is happening to their commitment to their supplier and can be incommunicado for weeks, or worse months. After spending many thousands of dollars, on say, an app, but without making the balance payments for remaining stages of the agreement, this leaves any firm with issues to address if they haven’t protected themselves adequately:

Depending on the intricacy of the required software code, they also have to assign the right level of developer. If the developers involved are contractors they will not be too keen to hang on if the firm is in need of additional contracts to keep them busy and may need to earn money elsewhere. This could really harm a small app firm with a start up workflow, or inconsistent business supply. A pipeline of revenue can take a long time to develop.

If the developers involved are employees it is difficult financially to have people sitting around not making margin. In terms of ensuring available developers are actively working on other client apps, it could work out to be a bit tricky, too.

Then, there are people are on the make, they see an app firm and decide to say they haven’t got what they paid for and try to sue for what they have already paid with damages for loss of projected earnings, irrespective of the reality and without testing the concept of the app in a competitive market.

I have one past anecdote in mind where the client sued the app firm, the case was thrown out as ridiculous. The client didn’t give up and went to another court to make a new claim that the app firm was wrong to make positive encouraging phrases about the positive possibilities of their apps success. The app firm concerned did not guarantee a level for the apps success and they did not project market value. They thought it sounded good, but did not know for certain and were happy to gain the business, so of course they sounded enthusiastic! They never gave any assertion about their fitness to judge such things because that was not their stated business. The app firms business was to take client instruction, work as collaboratively as possible and deliver the app in good time (allowing for additional client requests), on budget. Their opinion on the products’ success was never part of the agreement. It’s a bit like the manufacturers opinion of a car manufacturer could be about a domestic car, they state it has a good engine, with the guidelines that fuel and maintenance will allow its driver to travel from A to B. They may have said it’s popular, other people will buy it and it’s a bit zippy but is not expect it will help Louis Hamilton win the Grand Prix (unless it’s going to get him to the race track). Some outlandish scenario may make it possible and they will be enthusiastic about selling it to you, using language congruent with your wish to purchase it and an understanding of it’s potential among other cars, but that’s all.

Even if a firm has done everything by the book, if they haven’t got enough resources for repeated legal representation to protect their interests, they’re stuffed.

Without legislative protection it is hard to start a black list for a relatively new industry like apps without ending up in court oneself.

What is needed here, in my non-legal, but common sense opinion, in the absence of legislation or advice for scenarios like this, is a broader understanding of what can happen in business through:

A thorough understanding in risk management or paid for resources to satisfy this requirement, as well as actually reframing terms and conditions to cover it in order to cut down the possibility of this kind of aggressive litigation activity, which often results, in my opinion, in exhausting the resources and will of the firms involved in the contract.

I have seen it before and experienced it running a different kind of small business myself, but in my case the issue was just about getting them to pay at all. Lesson learned.

Get your terms and conditions right. Don’t be too trusting because for the 99.9% of decent clients in existence, there are also the other type of slash and burn client.

No one is saying that being in a legal wrangle makes one a bad client. There are good reasons to take firms to court over bad practice, but if it’s just to get an unfair advantage, word may get around – eventually. However, that won’t pay your bills, or keep your business afloat if you are on the receiving end of litigation.

Good coaching helps clients, whether businesses or individuals to look at investigating as many steps in their planned goal as possible, helping them to take these steps agreed by the client, once they are satisfied with the achievability of their own process and their commitment to it. If the client has a real rip roaring idea which turns them into a millionaire overnight, that’s great, but it’s not the coaches responsibility.

Commitment to something like an app as your goal is indicative of whether you, the client truly see the reality of what it means for you, the possibilities from your perspective and your target audience and whether at the outset, you fully understand these things have to be done in tandem with the talents and resources of suppliers: In other words, whether you really want to achieve what you originally state as the client.

Maintaining a good reputation is not like leaving a book one has been reading unfinished behind and expecting to know the ending will work out the way one wants it to – perfectly. If you are an individual or run a business, but you have not got the will to do something fully or at all, examine why, but be nice to yourself about it. Are you leaving something incomplete or undone because it’s not really your goal, or you’re a bit stuck? If you do want to achieve a goal and still run up against things, you may need a coach. Contact me and see if you want to be coached on your goal.

Notice:

The content of this article and others by this author is purely the opinion of Mandy Worrall, owner of Statuam, a coaching service. It is not a legal opinion (or qualification in risk management) and is only intended to serve as a helpful note to those wishing to plan and secure business in any and all fields of endeavour. Mandy Worrall and Statuam do not give advice and take no responsibility for any action or inaction, or omission of any individual or company in pursuance of their business/organisation, or representation of any other business or organisation, either now or in the future, but only wishes to provide issues and personal insights for consideration and discussion.

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