Those "hard decisions" include terminating the kid you really like who is bright and shows so much promise but can't seem to ever get to work on time, puts baking cookies with his family at Christmas over coming to work for the Holiday sales crunch and finally pushes you to the brink by forging a doctor's note so he can call in sick when he's really not.
Another difficult decision involves trying to be polite to a prospective vendor who is selling the most horrible looking headbands in unbelievably unattractive colors. I never want to be intentionally rude, disrespectful or unkind, so I always decline the opportunity to tie up my limited funds in a probable slow mover by saying I don't have the budget. Which I don't - at least not for a guaranteed deadbeat product line.
Other hard decisions?
Deciding not to have a press event at a friend's new restaurant because it just wouldn't work for a number of reasons even though he needs the business. Or not accepting certain advertising because it would be inappropriate for my visitors even though the ads pay way more than the more appropriate ones.
But sometimes even business that is supposedly not personal feels very personal indeed.
Recently I called an accessory designer I had been doing business with since 2004 (I actually made my first call to the designer in 2001). The designer was a personal hero of mine for his business achievements as well as for his fabulous creations. Like me, he started his company on a shoestring and bootstrapped it up to a very successful enterprise. I also knew his wife who I also admired and respected for her work in the company.
Due to a number of business factors I had not been able to buy from the designer for a few years but had let the company know that I would be back to buy again when circumstances were different. It was time for me to buy again because I again had the budget and was thrilled to be able to add the latest collection.
I called to request the latest product line sheets only to be told that the designer "no longer wished to sell to my company". Why? I am not exactly sure I could tell you the precise reasons because I was in shock during the phone call right after I heard the news that my company was no longer appropriate to buy from the line. At one point towards the end of the conversation with a new rep (I had never talked with before) she told me "it's not personal, it's business".
What I managed to piece together was that I did not have the designer's bio on my website (although I have 2 bio style articles all over the site) and they no longer want to sell to web companies due to design issues.
At that point I became furious.
I was angry because I had put a lot of my time and energy into promoting the designer in the press for many years. I had sent out many of his pieces to various editors, at my own expense, and many times the pieces would mysteriously disappear before returning to HairBoutique.com, which is not unheard of when lending out pieces to the press. Yes, they are supposed to send them back but it doesn't always happen.
So in fact, it involved my personal investment in the designer and his lines.
I had dedicated a lot of time (which is definitely money), energy and money into marketing the designer and promoting his line in my e-store. I had also written about the designer in articles which are still at the very top of all the search engines after four straight years.
So while it may not have been personal to the designer or his rep, it was personal to me because I had dedicated my own personal time towards doing my part to tell the world how great this designer is. Yes, it was my decision to do so, but doesn't that count for something?
I immediately shared my shock with a good friend who is a free lance editor (and knows just about everyone in the business) for many well known fashion magazines and she told me to write a note about the situation to the wife of the designer. I did that and promptly received a reply that said "sorry - I will look into it and get back to you". Sadly I never heard back from the wife even though it has now been more than five days since "the incident".
The CEO that lives in my head most of the time, keeps telling me it's a good thing that the designer ended our buying relationship because now I have funds to buy other cooler things from other great designers. While I know in my CEO brain that indeed it is business and not personal, it still feels like hell on the receiving end.
Does that mean I can dish it out but I can't take it? Maybe.
Or maybe the situation just sucks and I am angry because I thought that my long term loyalty, devotion and marketing meant something. Doesn't loyalty mean anything anymore? Or am I just a born again Shirley Temple living on the Good Ship Lollipop?
My friend the super editor, who knows the designer quite well, told me.....you know when some designers get big...they forget all the people that helped them get there. She also said, "everyone wants to ride with you when you have a limo but they pretend to not know you when you ride the bus".
A different editor friend who I reported the situation to told me to remember....what goes up must come down and if this designer "fires" all of his loyal buyers, a day will come when he won't have any left and indeed, fashions change, business changes.
Besides all good CEOs know that you should never step on people on the way up because you might see them on the way back down.
Finally, a bit of irony. The day before I made the call to request the new line sheets I received a call from yet a third editor friend telling me that the designer's piece I had sent into her big name magazine a few weeks ago would be featured in an upcoming month's issue with credit to HairBoutique.com. How funny that even to the end I am getting him great press for his designs.
I guess it is really true that no good deed goes unpunished, but I am consoling myself with the knowledge that what goes around comes around.And finally, when one door closes, another opens. Whew....with all these great sayings....I need a Starbucks to wash them all down.
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