Case in point. My client wanted to upgrade his website. We had used a WordPress template that looked good and worked efficiently. But to expand the site, I would have to code. Now, my own website says I don’t code. While I can produce low-cost, professional websites for small businesses and individuals, when a site requires coding (as opposed to widgets, plug-ins and basic template customization), I defer to programmers or web developers. So I referred the client to someone I know from networking, someone who works extensively with code.
When I refer clients or potential clients, I am saying, “I don’t offer that service, but I know a great professional who does.”
Now, some people will balk at admitting their limitations. I don’t for several reasons.
- If I can’t give the customer what she/he needs, it reflects poorly on me.
- If I keep the client but outsource, I incur administrative and legal responsibilities I am not ready or willing to take on.
- If I say I can do the work but there is a tremendous learning curve, I don’t believe I should charge the client for my lack of knowledge or delay delivery because I don’t have the right skills.
Don’t get me wrong. I am continuously educating myself so I can offer the widest range of services. But I also want to be as honest as possible when evaluating myself. Am I really the best person to complete the task at hand? If yes, great. If no, the customer will appreciate my integrity and likely refer me, if not come back to me with a request for something I can provide. Plus, the professional I refer the client to is likely to refer me when he/she can’t provide a service but I can.
This kind of frankness does not equal degrading yourself. If you have real confidence in your abilities, you will know and admit your limitations as well. Feeling great about what you can do and acknowledging what you can’t will ultimately add to your reputation as an expert in your field. So ask yourself this question whenever a potential client comes along. Would you hire yourself? An honest answer is the one that will eventually bring you more business.