Hint: it’s not the idea nor the execution.
One of our customers fired us. I have to say that after the tremendous efforts that we invested in the project it was shocking and disappointing. More than that — we are angry at this customer. We feel that she does not appreciate the time, money, human resources and all that we did for the project. But… bottom line: we are out.
Like in every project, I like to conclude what went wrong and what went right, so we can improve for next times, and provide better products and services to our customers. And then it hit me: It has nothing to do with the services we provide. It has less to do with the product we make. It has (almost) nothing with the idea and concept of our company. All of that are important, but could not really effect the success of the project. One thing (and only one thing) can effect the project: SET THE EXPECTATIONS RIGHT!
“Expectations?! Really, Guy? That what you believe effect our business?”. For me the answer is YES! It is much more important than any other aspect of your company, and it doesn’t matter if you set the expectation with your team members, your customers, your investors, your suppliers. Make sure you are aligned with your counter-parties, so next time there will be mis-understanding (and frustration coming out of it) — at least both parties will know what they expected, so they can accept it.
Oh, and setting the expectations should begin with YOU! You should write down your set of expectation from yourself even before you start working with other people. It will bring the tension down and will provide you to know your boundaries. It will be your “self-own-business-plan-but-for-real”.
So… What will be the best way to nail it?
1. WRITE IT DOWN
I used to be a lawyer. To be honest: I hated the times I had to draft contracts. It was always messy, with legal terms, with conflicts, with fights. Don’t be a lawyer, but DO SET THE EXPECTATIONS in writing. When both parties know where they are going to — it will be easier down the road.
When it comes to yourself: list down the expectations you have from yourself that are related to your new venture, your family, your friends, your hobbies. It will be your “achievement list” meeting the “personal business plan”. When you write things down — its easier for your to remember what you had in mind when you started.
2. TALK ABOUT IT
Always talk with yourself or with the other parties about the expectations. DO NOT ASSUME ANYTHING! I have seen cases in my life when it was crystal clear for me that we should take our project “that way”, and do “this”… but when I asked other people — they understood the situation totally different. Talk about your expectations with everybody involved. Transparency reduced tension, and gives you a better chance to follow your expectations.
3. DO A WEEKLY/MONTHLY/QUARTERLY REVIEW
Every once in a while — go through your initial plans and check if reality brought you the situation you expected. Everything can happen in life. Sometimes the right timing can bring you even more that you expected. Sometime it does not. But you should review your plans so your spirit will not be broken, to minimize frustrations, and mostly — to avoid spending your time for nothing.
4. IT IF DOESN’T WORK — LEAVE
The most important asset we have is… time. Do not waste it. Use it wisely. When you working you’re a** off and does not get anywhere — that means your expectations were not real. When you want to achieve something that eventually turns out to be less that you wanted — your expectations are not real. If your expectations turn to be unreal — you must leave the project/venture/business/plan and revise it.
5. BE AGILE
Life can be very fluid. One day you are on top. The other day — you feel depressed (even though everybody on my feed always looks happy). Be agile, be patient, accept everything. But… Once your expectations are no in place — remember that it is up to you to change the situation and make it better.
So… I guess it’s only fair to ask whether you expected this to be the number one reason for your success of your business?