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Are You a Partner or a Provider? March 3, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in work/life.
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Those who know me will tell you I love a feisty debate. I’m sure a few ex-girlfriends would even tell you I argue for the sake of arguing, but if I’m guilty of playing Devil’s advocate a bit too much, it stems wholly from a love of learning and a constant desire to prove myself and my own ideas wrong. I don’t mind being wrong at all, as I’ve said before, I’m quite happy not to be right; I’m simply working towards being least wrong.

But I digress. Often. We got into an argument discussion on Friday over what it meant to be a provider/supplier as opposed to truly being a partner. Long time readers know I show Simon Chen over at Eight Black a lot of link love, and I do that for a couple reasons. The first is he is great at what he does, and having worked with so many snake-oil merchants over the years, it is a pleasure to send every pair of eyeballs I can his way. So if you need some advice on SEO, SEM or email marketing, go say hi and tell him David Gillespie sent you. Actually don’t, he’ll probably ask for danger money.

The second reason I send him a lot of love is he understands what it means to be a partner. Simon doesn’t just show up with invoices, he shows up with heart, passion, and a genuine desire to add value to your business. Partners are proactive, they come to you with ideas and insights for your business, they send you books that help you be more self-sufficient, they connect you with people who will give you good advice, at best for free, and at worst for a nice bottle of white over lunch. They brainstorm when you’re not in the room, they do mock-ups of ideas for your website and don’t charge for them; they recognise billable hours are worthless and relationships are priceless.

Do you have partners or just providers for your business? If you’re in the vendor space, when was the last time you went out of your way for a client? Not the bluechip one that paid for your kid’s schooling, I’m talking the guys who are passionate and boot-strapping to get by. The adage that you only know who your friends are when you’re down is just as true in business. Take a couple guys from that company to lunch this week and simply show an interest in what they do. Then sit back and smile when something you were genuinely a part of manages to take flight.

If you’ve picked your projects right, you will be along for the ride the entire way.

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1. Bluefreeway; Indigo Hindsight « Wide Open Spaces - March 8, 2008

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