Michelle Coyle is president of BGSD Strategies, where she provides strategic advice for political business owners. Have a question about your business? Email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll answer them here.
Q: I ignored your advice and didn’t hire additional staff before I took on a new client, who’s turning out to be very demanding. I’m worried this client is going to eat up too much of my time, should I ride it out until November, scale back the commitment, or just fire them?
A: At this point in the cycle, it’s always tempting to just suck it up and get through the election, no matter what “it” is. However, if you’re feeling anxious about the amount of time this client is taking up, I’m assuming that the situation has escalated to the point that you’re dropping balls with other clients, and/or that this problem account isn’t going to compensate your firm at the level that justifies their level of neediness.
Here’s the thing: None of this is worth sacrificing your overall health and sanity. Not your business, not “the movement,” and certainly not this one particular client account. The fact that you’re even asking this question has me worried that you haven’t grasped that fundamental truth yet.
Of course there are times in life, in business, and certainly in politics that justify fully-focused, short-term sprints toward the goal line. The problem begins to arise when these sprints stop becoming the exception and start becoming your overall way of life.
It’s all too easy to get addicted to feeling needed. Do you have a sense of self-worth that derives from being able to pull things off when other people can’t? Do you love to swoop in and be the hero?
If you’re recognizing yourself in my questions, also recognize that other people can see that about you, and that many of them will happily take advantage of it. Our entire industry is rife with messages of noble self-sacrifice that consistently get twisted in exploitation.
Spend some time answering the following questions for yourself:
- How does this situation feel for me?
- Am I OK feeling this way?
- What boundaries do I need to set that I haven’t set yet?
- What boundaries have I set, but failed to enforce?
- Who is ultimately responsible for my health and happiness?
- What will happen to my business and the rest of my life if I’m consistently unhealthy and unhappy?
Once you’ve answered those questions honestly, you’ll know what you need to do next.
Q: I’m thinking about getting a loan so I can grow my business after the midterm cycle wraps. Is a slow period for our industry a good time to take on new financing?
A: It might border on sacrilege for me to say this, but not everything has to do with the timing of the campaign cycle.
In this case, you’re talking about getting a bank loan to get cash to invest in your business. That loan is still going to be relatively low-interest, and as such is going to have relatively low payments – low enough that you’ll be able to cover them easily even when you’re in a slow revenue period. If some kind of emergency arises that makes that difficult, you can just send the loan money back to the bank, since we’re not talking about spending it all at once — right?
The timing that weighs more heavily on my mind in this instance has to do with the direction of the economy as a whole, and specifically with rising interest rates. Without delving into a level of detailed nerdiness that might put regular readers off this column, I’ll just say that it’s likely they’re going to keep trending upward for the foreseeable future, and that it’s always better to borrow money when interest rates are lower.
If you are planning on borrowing money or financing anything (business or personal) in the next year, I would suggest you get on top of that sooner rather than later.