You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life. -Winston Churchill
I’ve been hoodwinked by a local business owner touting himself as a business coach/Business Solutionist/Business Expert/and bunch of other stuff. He uses networking and local chamber of commerce connections to meet people. Normally this is a very good thing, but in my case it was a very bad thing. I was referred to him by someone that I trusted, and I’m still reeling from my dealings with the individual.
I’m a passionate small business owner/ blogger and product review is something that I’ve done for years. Whether it’s a scrub or a business plan…product review is what I do. My review of the quality of his product and service is no different than anything else I’ve reviewed over the past 5 years. If I love it I say so and if I hate it I say so, fair enough?!
I have literally worked and sacrificed my ass off over the past 8 years to get where I am today, and NOBODY and I do mean NOBODY will get the pleasure of traipsing up in my business all willy nilly and walking out with my hard earned cash, without delivering what they were paid to deliver. Where I come from that’s called STEALING.
I Have A Dream…
There were years when I worked 4 jobs and 7 days a week without complaining to make a living for my family, all while pursing my passion of being a business owner. I have scrimped and scraped to save for my dream all while not making excuses or looking for handouts, I have loved and lost…because of my dream, I have not had a full 8 hours of sleep in years in pursuit my dream. I’ve been fired for speaking out when a company’ actions could have potentially jeopardized my dream. I really beleve that for some reason God wanted a woman like me to be in the marketplace. Some that will speak out against indifference and poor quality work.
I’m a full time single mother…you see I get the honor and privilege of doing the work of two people, with almost no help from my ex-husband. In addition to a being a small business owner, a volunteer in my community among a myriad of other things.
I work real hard at doing my best every time and it shows. My daughter is a well liked, well adjusted all around good kid and my business is coming right along. I have endured too much to just lay here and allow this to happen to me.
A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
I am writing this post for two reasons 1) because Ken suggested that I blog more and 2) because folks need to hear my story so they avoid the freaking HEADACHE. I met Ken Seawell of Seawell Business Solutions in late April early Mayish of this year. He was referred to me by one of my Greater Leaders of Rochester classmates. Yes I have spoken with the individual that referred Ken and Seawell Business Soultions to me regarding this matter.
I hired Ken Seawell of Seawell business solutions for strategic and market planning as well as operations manuals for ME Beauty. My two main goals were to put together plans to attract investors and secure funding, and to hire employees. The terms of agreement were for 6 months from May-October paid monthly on a retainer. The old adage hind sight is 20/20 is kicking me in the butt right now. I honestly didn’t know so I have to cut myself some slack.
Silly of ME
Here I am thinking I was doing a good thing for my business. Something that would give me the tools to grow, the right way. Pretty much up until now I’ve done what comes natural to me and flown by the seat of my pants.
My experience is in esthetics and creative writing, and I’ve built a business around my strengths. I was different in the marketplace I kicked the doors in… I made a lot of noise and challenged the old stuffy way of doing skincare. People liked that about me. I’ve gotten some push back along the way from “professionals”, but the crowd has gone and continues to go wild about how I market my brand.
I was one of the first estheticians in my area to use social media, people found me exciting and refreshing, and now that everyone is twittering and facebooking for business. I started getting bored and it was time to implement a new strategy and turn things up a notch. That’s the entire reason I hired Ken Seawell, to help me put together this kick booty plan.
I’m so artsy fartsy that it’s insane, but now I felt that it was time for me to take things a step further and learn how to plan for my future. I have a never ending supply of creative idea and I have a ton of heart, but these things will get you so far in business. There comes a time in every businesses life when you’ve gotta plan for success, in my observation some people don’t really think of salon as being a “real business” and I want to be considered a real biz.
FYI I’ve always had a business plan. I took a business plan writing class at the chamber of commerce in 2007 and came up with my plan then. Until now I’ve financed this entire business adventure thingy myself using my personal savings.
When you know better you do better.
So here are a few things that I’ve since found out since the madness began and hopefully you can learn from my very costly faux-pas
-If you are in fact looking for someone to help you with your businesses strategic plan ask to see their work. I didn’t know that I should have asked to see any of Seawell Business Solutions previous strategic and marketing plans, but I do now. If they don’t have any work to show you…tell them to KICK ROCKS in a politically correct way of-course .
-During the deciding process and before hiring a freelancer or a company ask to speak with references. I like the number 3, two companies or individuals that have done business with them and one company or individual that decided not to do business with them. If they don’t have references or won’t allow you to speak with the references. They more than likely have something to hide…so just chuck em a deuce and keep it pushing.
-The terms of agreement are uber-importante. So in my case the terms and conditions for ME Beauty should have been spelled out in sections and I should have received an appropriate deadline for each section. Doing so would allow me to benchmark our progress and keep myself and Seawell Business Solutions on target. Yeah that’s something I didn’t get either. If the terms are not clearly spelled out first try to negotiate them, and then if you can’t reach a happy medium…RUN screaming for dear life!
-Check their credentials. In my great state of Michigan there isn’t a regulatory board that governs business coaches and consulting firms. So it makes it a little more challenging to fact check to see if a person or company is legit. Pretty much anyone can open a business selling these services and that my friend is terrifying.
There are organizations that these people can join, but that still doesn’t mean that this person is any good at what they do. It just means that they’ve paid their annual dues.
-Don’t pay for it all upfront. Industry standard is to put down a down payment in the beginning and to pay for the remaining portion upon completion of project. You can even go so far as to add penalties to your contract if they miss deadlines on the project I was offered a monthly retainer as a payment option. In my opinion this doesn’t create a sense of urgency and I will never ever do this again.
-I Guarantee and make sure they do too. It’s not common in the professional service industry for folks to offer guarantees, but it never hurts to ask for this as a contingency in your contract. If a company is all of that and a bag of chips, they will stand behind that quality of their work with a satisfaction money back guarantee. This will reduce a risk for you and build brand loyalty with them. Everyone can sleep better at night if they don’t feel like they’re being take for a ride.
You’ve got the power in your hands my friend and never ever forget it. They need your business and there are tons of other freelancers and companies that would be willing to work with you and achieve great results. Here are two of my favs (listed in no particular order) that I’ve spent years waxing my way towards working with. I just can’t afford em now and with this latest caper I’m even further behind the eight ball =(. Oh well just because I can’t afford them..this will not prevent me from sharing my enthusiasm about their companies.
Curve Detroit- love these people!
Daniel Brian & Associates-Love them too!
Side thoughts and hind sight observations. When you receive a formal document or any type of correspondence from a company please make sure that it is printed on company letterhead, and not some bootlegged hot mess that they’ve attached their logo to in a word document and printed out on their home printer.
I certainly hope these tips help save you from the headache I’ve endured. For a more in depth look into my janky encounter with Ken Seawell of Seawell business solutions…click on I’ve gotta know more