Building a Business: Lesson #1

People are crazy.

I recently made some new friends, one of which is a graphic designer. I need a logo, she’s a designer, maybe we can work something out. I asked her if we could get together and talk about things, to see if we’re the right fit for each other. She invited me over to a BBQ at her house and introduced me to a woman who is apparently her business partner. The woman had been doing sales & marketing on a small scale for a long time so she handled the business side of things and my friend did the design. They hired themselves out as some kind of consulting/design team or something.

This woman is incredibly pushy and overbearing. She seems to think she has the solution for everything and that she’s never wrong. She also doesn’t let you get a word in edgewise. I think if she had actually listened when I was speaking to her that night all of the following problem could have been avoided.

Anyway I tried to be polite, smiled & nodded, said “uh-HUH, I’ll think about that” “thanks for sharing” and all the other kind of nice noises you make at someone when you are actually more knowledgeable than them in a topic but are trying to be polite.

I think somehow she construed this to mean I had hired her??? I don’t know?? As soon as I got home I started getting bombarded by emails from her about one thing or another. They were all loosely related to my business, but just barely. She’d send me info on products I could carry (that were not part of my image), sent me links to promotional supply companies (I don’t need those, I need actual consumer products) and then she started in with the demands.

At first I thought it was just that she was interested in my business ( a lot of people like to weigh in on things & ask me about it out of curiosity) and maybe wanted to give me a tiny bit of help. I tried to reciprocate by doing research on product vendors for her and also sharing industry information with her. But it was SOOO frustrating. She’d send a million emails a day asking unclear questions in each, all while preaching at me for one thing or another. None of it was useful to me, it was just her trying to be important.

She demanded information from me on a trade show I’m going to next week. I gave her the info on that and everything else she asked for (I was trying to be nice) but it seems like she didn’t even read anything I responded with. She kept asking for the same stuff, over and over. Why is any of this MY problem?

The final straw was today. She “called me out” on the fact that I didn’t answer all her questions on something this week.

1. Why am I obligated to answer her on anything?
2. did she even read any of the 3 previous emails where I told her the answers?!?!

And then she demanded that I sell her a product I was getting for the store at cost. At first I misunderstood. I thought she just wanted to make sure I ordered enough items so she could buy 4 of them. I told her I would order them and give her free shipping since she’d be picking them up. That’s nice of me, right?

Oh no, it wasn’t good enough. Here is her response and some other juicy bits from the email train. My original email to her is in purple.

Dear Lisa,

I am not paying retail for your products. I will buy them from you at cost price.

It’s called barter or contra. I have helped you in your business, and you have helped me in product purchase. Trading services.

On Wed, Aug 3, 2011 at 2:50 PM, Lisa <@gmail.com> wrote:
I’m lost! There are so many emails! What questions do you still need answered?

You do realize that Retail is all about answering questions & service. You will need a lot of energy to execute the process.

If you answered my questions per email, my questions reduce down to 1 email only.

Here are my questions again off of email last night  –  (…)

 

Unreal.

That was it. I have no obligation to this woman, I owe her nothing and she’s not helping me. Somehow she thinks we’re doing business? There was never any talk of trade or an agreement. I know what contra, trade and barter are. It was part of my job when I worked in advertising. It’s not contra when the other party doesn’t know anything about it!

I called and left her a voicemail saying we were not doing trade because I was unaware of it. I offered to give her the items at cost to smooth her feathers but told her it was a one-time thing. I also told her that it couldn’t have been trade anyway since I never asked her for anything, and the things she did “share” with me *cough*shovedownmythroat*cough* were things I already knew since I worked in marketing, too. Basically this woman has provided no value to me at all. I tried to be diplomatic about it but there’s no getting around it.

She thinks she did all this work but it was pointless since I never asked for it. Why should I trade or give payment for something I never wanted nor agreed to?

So that’s what I learned today. I guess once people hear that you’re going into business they start coming out of the woodwork. Everyone wants something and a lot of them think they can get it for nothing.

I’ll help you out as much as I can, but I have to draw a line somewhere. This is my livelihood and I have to look out for myself because no one else will.

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