“Don’t be the most enthusiastic fuck up anyone’s ever hired!”
This is quickly turning into Rachel’s favorite saying because, guys, it’s starting to become a thing.
We’re all constantly bombarded with the message that we can be whatever the hell we want to be — forget qualifications, forget experience, forget skill. If you have enough drive and enough enthusiasm, you can complete an 8-week crash course in (insert your chosen industry/profession here), start your small business, and in 12 months time you’ll be making six figures, working on your laptop on a beach in Bali.
“I can’t do that, I don’t have any experience” you cry. “That’s just imposter syndrome talking. If you really, really care about what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter if you screw up a little” the world — and by that we mean sponsored ads on social media — cries back.
So you go for it. You decide to wing it. To learn “on the job” and hey, if you fuck it up, you can always smooth things over with a smile.
You go with enthusiasm over competence.
We do not want to piss on your bonfire here, (especially if you’ve just booked your flight to Bali!) but, dudes, this is just bad business.
And we see it ALL.THE.TIME.
Particularly when a business is new…
So you’ve done your crash course, you’ve read a bunch of stuff, and reckon you can have a crack at doing some coaching/writing/design work for a real life client. For real life money — happy dance! And hey, the cost of living is cheap in Bali, right?
“Can you do x?” the client asks. You don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about, but there’s always Google. “Sure” you say.
Which is fine, if the client has asked for something that you’re reasonably confident you can handle. Something risky…but deliverable.
But if you truly are out of your depth, no amount of enthusiasm, passion, or drive is going to dig you out of the hole. Because your client isn’t just a pending invoice — they’re a real person relying on the results you’ve promised them. For their health, for their business, for their happiness, whatever.
And screwing around with that, or winging it, is not okay.
Particularly when a business is scaling…
Things can get pretty crazy, pretty fast when you’re scaling your biz, especially if you have panicky little investors whispering in your ear, asking when they’re going to see a return.
That’s when customer service goes out the window. Like when Rachel ordered a product from a rapidly-scaling business and had to wait THREE MONTHS for something that was promised within 14 days.
But it’s cool, because the company sent her a few super-enthusiastic, fun, quirky emails to try to smooth things over. Which is fine, she’s like so over it. But will she be buying from them again? What do you think?
The investors might be happy that things are growing fast but with customer service falling by the wayside, the loss of repeat business is going to make the descent just as rapid as the climb.
All the enthusiasm and excited emojis in the world can’t paper over incompetence.
Particularly when you start resenting your work…
Maybe the work isn’t as exciting as you thought it would be, maybe you’ve discovered that negotiating really isn’t your thing and you feel like your customers are taking advantage. Maybe you’re not getting paid what you think you deserve.
And a teeny tiny bit of resentment creeps in. You start half-assing your work and when complaints come in you turn on the charm and hope an apologetic smile will make up for it.
Spoiler: it won’t.
You gotta put the human first.
Guys, there’s one thing at the root of all of this — forgetting that you have to put the human first. Always.
If you remember that behind the dehumanizing marketing terms like “audience” or “target market”, there are actual people, not just cash piñatas, you’ll manage to do a graceful little hop over all of those “enthusiasm over competence” pitfalls.
You won’t scale at the expense of delivering on your promises. You’ll have too much respect for your client to risk screwing them over by taking on a job you’re not qualified for. And you won’t be tempted to phone it in at work because you’ll be super-duper aware of the value you’re bringing to other lovely human beings.
Getting things right for the customer: it’s how you’ll be a better, more ethical business owner, it’s how you’ll be a better person, and incidentally, it’s also how you’ll manage to get your butt to that beach in Bali some day.