Let me go on record and say that being reliable is more important than being talented. Even if it sounds counter-intuitive, I’ve learned that it’s true through years of running a marketing consultancy firm. When you’re working with clients and building trust and rapport, you will get much more mileage out of your consistency and work ethic than for your talent at what you do.
Don’t get me wrong—you can’t swap out one for the other, or run a business without being qualified or competent at providing the services that you offer. Rather, I say that reliability is more important than talent because if you blow deadlines, fail to communicate, or are otherwise difficult to work with, your talent and ability won’t save you.
Your Talent is Only Apparent After the Fact
I believe in the work that I do for my clients. I know that they’re getting a good value for a fair rate when I work with businesses to create a go-to-market solution or define a value proposition. When my clients see their results after the project is done, they know it too. But while I’m working with a business on a project, my client is trusting me on faith. We are called on Demand CMO because we provide the expertise of a Chief Marketing Officer while the company focuses on doing what they do best. They don’t always have the same niche marketing knowledge that we do, and so they don’t always know whether or not I’m selling them snake oil until they see their bottom line increase. Because of this difference in expertise, my talent as a marketing consultant can only take me so far. What my clients always know, however, is whether or not we are easy to work with.
Communication is Key to Reliability
Being a good business owner requires a lot of skills that have little to do with what you sell or make. You need to learn to always keep your promises, to communicate clearly, and to do everything when you say you’re going to do it. A big part of my job is making sure I’m never adding more stress to my clients’ to-do list. For example, I never wait for my clients to send panicked emails asking for updates on a project. I always make sure to communicate exactly what’s going on before they have to ask. If a deadline can’t be met because of an unforeseen delay or change in scope, I make sure my clients always know this beforehand. Communication will take you a long way.
Business is a place where you must check your ego at the door. There is no place here for the “difficult but talented artist”. Trust is your most precious capital as a business owner, and trust comes from being consistent over time. It’s important to always teach your client or customer what they can expect from you early on, and then strive to always meet or exceed that expectation. If you get good at this, you’ll build a loyal customer base that can appreciate the brilliance in your work. But to be able to do that, you need them to appreciate your dependability first.