How do you treat your most important client?

Your most important client For a moment, visualize your most important client. Visualize sitting in an important update meeting with that client and you get an incoming phone call from another client. Would you walk out of the meeting to answer the call?

Remember, you’re with your MOST important client and this time is IMPORTANT. Would you walk out of that meeting to talk a less important call? Would you? Probably not.

Now let’s take it one step further. Who is the most important person (or people) in your life? For those of us with families, the obvious answer is “our family”.

I’d never risk my life for a client, but I would for my wife or children in an instant. But here’s the thing, what if your family doesn’t need you to die for them? What if they just need you to turn off the phone and close the laptop? What if they just need you to treat them with the same respect you would your most important client?

I should note that if anything, I’m preaching to myself here. I’ve run a business from home since I was a teenager. What started as just me, became me plus my wife, then plus one, plus another, and another, and another (that seems like a lot more kids when I put it like that). In all that time, I’ve always worked from home. (Although that’s about to change.)

The best thing about working from home is that you never have to go to work, the worst is that you never get to leave. I’ve often been guilty of being home without actually being there.

What struck me tonight was that if I were in a meeting with my most important client, I would not answer a call or text or e-mail from another client. I’d give that customer my undivided attention because that’s what they deserve.

Doesn’t my family deserve the same? Doesn’t yours? YES!

So what are we going to do about it? Here are a few things that have helped me (and some that I’m still working on).

  1. If you work from home, have a designated space where work happens. Maybe it’s a corner desk or a full office, but when you’re in that space, everyone knows you’re working. My wife often would prefer I go out to my office than work from the couch if there are a lot of other things going on.
  2. Schedule personal time. I don’t mean just talk about it or think about it, actually put it on your calendar. Block out specific time for lunch or dinner or time at the park that’s just for family. Guard it like you would any important meeting.
  3. Take time completely away. For years, I would “take vacation” but never actually stop working. “I’m just going to check my e-mail real quick” would turn into hours of screen or phone time because once I see it, I can’t just leave it alone. Several years ago, one of my business goals was to get the business secure enough not to need me for at least seven days in a row. Now, every year, I take at LEAST a week (often more) of dedicated time away with NO BUSINESS. I deacivate my business e-mail on my iPhone to require extra steps just to check it.

None of this of foolproof and none of us are perfect, but all of us can take more steps to show our family that they are more important than our most important client.