Are You Begging for Business?

Are You Begging for Business?

Call me shallow, but I judge a book by its cover – and I judge who I buy from the same way.

When I’m thinking of giving a business my money, I pay attention to first impressions. Do they have a nice website? Do they have a “real” business or operate out of their bedroom? What does their About page photo look like? Is their name well known? Do they have staff or is it a one-man show?

Like I said, I’m shallow.

I’m swayed by swanky. I’m impressed by good looks. I love a credible appearance that makes me feel like I’m working with someone of status. I adore elite, and I hate low end.

So when it comes to spending money, I need to feel like you’re someone worth my cash – and someone who can make my spending become an investment. I don’t really care whether you can get me from point A to point B. I assume that if you’re a business expert of some sort, you can.

I care whether you’ll get me to point B in a Ferrari or a Lada.

But that’s just me.

That’s not how everyone thinks, though. I’ve noticed a lot of people adulate the underdog. A business owner writes a blog post admitting being nearly broke, facing bankruptcy, having no clients and basically going under…

And they support the person.

Self-proclaimed experts who struggle seem to continually dodge the misery-ending bullet because of it – and I don’t get it. They expose the nitty-gritty details of their struggles, like how they’re going through a divorce, seeking medical attention, losing their home or unable to afford flying somewhere posh, and then they pitch their services.

Incredibly, they get sales.

People buy from failing businesses and struggling “experts” all the time, every day. I don’t know whether they do so out of pity or to be a helping hand or simply because they feel guilty they have money and the poor business owner doesn’t, but when someone whines that times are tough, people dig in and fork out.

It makes no sense to me.

Personally, there’s no way in hell I’d give money to a failing business that’s falling apart or an expert publically announcing a lack of clients. I lose a lot of respect for people who exalt that sort of “transparency” and “humanism” so they can dodge hard work, marketing strategies, business planning and plain old professionalism.

Don’t tell me that you’re struggling. Make me think you’re a victorious winner who rocked your world – and that you can rock mine.

I get wanting to be nice to people, though. I’ve given money without question to a few friends who really need it. I help where I can. But when I’m thinking of hiring someone or buying a product, I want to give my money to someone successful who makes me feel confident I’m putting my money in the right place.

I guess I’m just special that way.

I’m beginning to wonder if “failing business” isn’t the new brand strategy. Promoting hard times seems to work well, after all. Just throw up a blog post about how you’re struggling hard to make ends meet, and offer a huge sale, discount your services, beg for clients, or post a donation button.

And you’ll be fine. In fact, you might even come out smelling like roses.

Like I said, I don’t get it. It’s like the internet is a best friend, the one people turn to for help when times are tough. But here’s the thing:

The internet isn’t your friend. Not when you’re in business.

What makes people think being desperate is an income strategy? Is this the fallback effect of successful, smarter people who don’t beg telling everyone to be genuine, real and “human”?

Or are people just blind to the boundaries that should exist between professional business and private life?

You don’t see Coke or Apple or Mercedes moaning over their fourth-quarter losses and begging you to buy from them to keep their company alive. Why? Because they understand the importance of reputation, credibility, and a respectable image.

They know these things build trust with their customers. They know that reputation means everything – and they work hard to maintain theirs.

But hey, why bother going to all that trouble, right? Begging works. Desperation gets sales. And your ‘community’ of blog readers? Well, just tell them how badly your business is doing, and they’ll save you.

Then again, maybe they won’t. Because maybe they’ll think this:

If you can’t succeed with your business, what makes you think you can help them with theirs?

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. The other reason you don’t see coke or Apple whinging about their Q4 loses is because they KNOW that if they hit hard times, it’s because they’re doing it wrong. At times like that, the only thing a big company will communicate is their plan for what they’re gonna do about it.

    They’ll put some spin on it too, to reassure any stakeholders. But ultimately? They won’t say ANYTHING about their tough times until they know exactly how they’re gonna get out of it.

    It doesn’t really matter how big you are actually – all successful companies and entrepreneurs act this way.

    • Well now, that’s the very thing, isn’t it? If people hit hard times, it’s because they’ve done something wrong. They haven’t planned properly, they haven’t marketed effectively, or maybe they got complacent as they rode their success.

      Then… oops.

      The successful people hit the rough weather, batten down and get a PLAN to get out of it… without running off to tell all their friends about how the shit’s hitting the fan.

      • Woa there big fella, just because we have fallen on hard times doesn’t mean that we have done something wrong. Maybe its the fact that we were broke to start with because of our circumstances, and starting a business was a way to try and get out of the bog but then that failed too because of the same problem

        Besides, you seem to be comparing apples to oranges here..comapring the mom and pop shop that may not be able to grind two dimes together vs coca cola with thousands of shareholders.

        If I had shareholders, you bet your butt i’d be able to hold my own or at least be able to figure a way out of the hard times even if it did mean tightening the belt a bit, but I forgot, I don’t have shareholders to pull a rabbit out of a hat for me. So next time you start to spout off about how a mom and pop business doesnt deserve your time because they have a donation page up and happen to mention they hit hard times, you might want to get your story straight before then,and compare businesses on equal levels, K, thanks!

        • ZING!

        • Charles,
          I was going to agree with you on the “just because we have fallen on hard times doesn’t mean that we have done something wrong”… if it can be absolutely true, you seem to sleep off the subject: it’s not about personal matters, but professional matters, and that’s exactly where you are comparing apples and oranges, in my opinion.
          If you let your impulsiveness aside for a sec’, you’d see that you looked at some ideas to be directed against you, and, ironically, part of acting professionally is to never take things at a personal level, when you are in business… being professional is a big responsibility, and if your business is all about providing excellence from you to your client, then you have a responsibility towards yourself NOT to ask for donations, no matter where you are insuccess or financial matters.
          I’ve worked once as a professional fundriser, but it was not my business, just an employee, I can tell that it is absolutely not easy to overcome your own pride in order to be able to ‘ask for’, ‘to beg’ (that’s what I hated about it; that psychological feeling of… I don’t have the word, the contrary of excellence…) I needed to overcome those feelings, in order to be ‘professional,’ and I was fortunate enough to learn a lot of things in the process, really, that was another extraordinary marketing experience, plus for good humanist causes… but I will never use what I learned to beg for anything in that context.

          Anyway, what I mean is, you should learn to overcome your own personal feelings in order to be truely professional. If you want to provide excellence, then you have to breath excellence, in everything you are and everything you do, and I think James is an excellent example of not doing things in half.

          • Charles Nicholls says:

            Well first Karim thanks for your post, it does help to step back and take a look at it from your angle. However, James seems to be comparing say Sears to Mom N Pops coffee shop on the corner. that’s where the apples vs oranges come in. If you are a big business with thousands of employees, and shareholders you better not let personal feelings get in the way of professionalism, but the mom and pop shop may not have the ability of keeping their personal feelings and professionalism separate because its only one person running it or maybe 2

            This is exactly what turned me off about the big car companies and others recently. They whine beg and groan they are going under then we fork over billions to them and some turn right around and throw lavish parties with the money we gave them.

            A (click to donate) button doesn’t mean that the business is begging or being unprofessional, and it also doesn’t mean that a person shouldn’t give it the time of day simply because of it either, there could be MANY reasons why that button is there.

            I probably will not post to this thread again because frankly I’m over it, I’ve said what I wanted to say, now I’m moving on. Take care all and may you have success in whatever you do.

            • Oh, Charles, I didn’t look at it like that neither, now after stepping back (me too) I understand what you meant, especially with your helpful explanation :) please don’t say you won’t come back, because your contribution counts a lot : )

              I agree with you on the fact that a huge successful company can’t be compared to a 2 persons or even a one person solo business, and you are absolutely right: being professional is not always evident, especially when going through hardships. And also: professionalism isn’t always a good thing neither, there are a number of sensible situations where I totally refused to follow some of my very ‘professional’ managers instructions, because we’re not in jungle, we’re humans and I personally always protected people who needed their money, so the last thing I would think about is to push sales on them, and I could afford my choices because I was a good seller.

              That’s one point.

              Another point is, I was wrong by telling you it’s unprofessional asking for donations, and I apologize for that, because it is not what I wanted to say, the reason why I said it is because I was connecting ‘donations’ with ‘low end’ service or product, but it is not always the case.

              I tried to remember a very successful person online who was asking for donations, and suddenly remembered Steve Pavlina, you know that incredible guy? He’s certainly one of the most incredible persons I have ever seen online, he’s a walking laboratory, lol, because he tries everything and report the results in a super smart way (even though sometimes I see some danger in his adventures but, life wouldn’t be life if we don’t afford taking calculated risks.)

              But the fact is, I never saw Steve complain about anything, because he was already successful before starting his blog, he just wanted financial freedom and making more money to suite the kind of lifestyle he wanted to have, from what I remember.

              And I think this is what James is communicating here: success and excellence don’t require telling the world all our personal hardships, and we should keep them secret, all while doing our best to change the situation by providing the best services/products we can, without having to convey any pity in our prospects feelings.
              Do you agree Charles?

    • Patrick Vuleta says:

      I’d say it’s more about how they have responsibilities to their shareholders and how negative comments can kill a public company.

      If the online businesses were publically traded, their share price would hit rock bottom.

      It’s a good idea to maintain market confidence in your abilities even if you’re not a public company. It goes beyond getting a few bucks from a sale.

      And if showing ‘personality’ requires you to seek sympathy, I’d say your personality needs work. :)

  2. Wow. A lot of food for thought here, James.

    I’m torn between agreeing with you and disagreeing.

    I agree that, as a business, you need to make people feel confident in buying from you. When I’ve had rocky financial times, I’ve confided in close friends … but I sure as hell haven’t shouted about it on my blog or on Twitter.

    But …

    There are some people who I buy from *because* they talk about the times when things have gone badly. It makes them seem human and approachable and it makes me think that they’ll get MY struggles too.

    It’s easy to overdo it, though.

    I’ve seen a few people post “donation” buttons and hold sales and whatnot, and be quite explicit that they’re struggling financially. And sometimes, like you, I wince a little inside and I worry about the impact on their business. But — if that’s what it takes for someone to get over a rough spot and get into their groove, then maybe it’s not so bad?

    • Well, let me throw another perspective at you and see what you think:

      There’s a difference between telling people the hardships you’re in NOW and asking for the sale… or telling them about it AFTER it’s passed, resolved and you’ve turned it into a learning experience you can share with others to HELP them grow.

      For example, I’ve a very public post out there about hard times and hardships… and yet, no one learned about the issue until years later – once everything was resolved and I’d been successful for some time. And, I probably never would have shared that info had I not felt forced into it.

      So I’m all for hearing about PAST hardships that successful people have overcome, because there’s something to learn from that. But if someone previously successful was on the rocks and posting about it in the NOW… I’d have a lot of questions about that person’s competency to help me.

      Make sense?

      • It makes great sense. And that’s pretty much how I do it too. I’ve no problem sharing past screw-ups (financial and otherwise) when it’s helpful and relevant.

        I just keep my present screw-ups to myself 😉

        But I get that for some people, maybe that’s either not an option (they really are on the rocks and they need help NOW to sort it) or they want to blog openly and honestly about a biz journey. Personally, I’m British and hate to talk about money 😉 but some people are a lot more comfortable with it.

        • I don’t mind sharing past screwups either ,but I also don’t mind talking about current issues that may be keeping me from attaining my objective, whether it be my screwup or whether it be a problem i stumbled on because of circumstances. Sure i’m not going to go yelling and whining to every Tom & Jane about a problem I have with finances, but if I decide to put a donation button on my site without begging, I shouldn’t be looked down on for it. A lot of disabled people try starting a business on a thread of a budget simply because they can’t work with a regular employer, so they try to start something of their own to make at least enough money to keep it going and help pay some bills. That is the category I am in. I got tired of being laid off because of my disability, so I tried starting up something on my own. Not making any money at it yet, but not losing my A– either.

          • Personally, I think it’s a good thing, and to be sincere, sometimes it’s absolutely not easy to find the right person you could talk to safely, plus who is qualified enough to share suitable and effective advice. In that situation, you must become that expert just by comparing documented situations to your own situation, in order to not fall into the same unnecessary errors

            And also, believe me when I say that James’ intentions are all positive to help, she has her way to encourage people :)

  3. James, lots to think about here!

    I think price point makes a difference. For $5 I’m willing to take a chance on something that maybe was designed by the author (as opposed to a graphic designer) or perhaps is not known to many. For $30+ though, I need to see something polished, looking good with some buzz around it.

    In response to your comment to Ali Luke, I would say that telling your hardships during or after depends on what you want to accomplish with the telling. Telling after the fact is about teaching, sharing, “here’s how not to…” But telling during the hard times, helps readers feel connected to the writer. Like the writer is one of them. But done in a pity party kind of way is a downer. Eventually I stop feeling sorry for the person and wonder why they can’t stop feeling sorry for themselves. If it’s gimmicky and feels slimy though, I’m out of there.

    • I have a hard time with the “feeling connected to the writer”. That’s not a very good business strategy, and I can’t really think of any large and successful company that makes me feel “connected”. Tim Hortons? Apple? Nike?… I feel like they understand me as a customer and I appreciate what they stand for… but connected?

      That kind of gives me the willies, lol

      • Maybe connected isn’t the right word? Understood, equal. That the writer has things that go wrong too. But an individual is totally different from a big company. I suppose when ipI looked at this, I was thinking of a solopreeneur or a small business. Not a big company – I guess I just assumed they’d be putting out a polished product. May not be a safe assumption though!

  4. Maybe there is a thin line between writing about financial hard times and more general hard times. I don’t mind reading about people having a crappy time but powering on through, but I definitely wouldn’t spend money on a business that I thought was about to close. But, then, my last post did mention the possibility of a job a Bojangles (fast food chicken, in case you aren’t familiar with it). Of course, the post was about getting through the bad days and going at it again…

    When I read about people who have had real difficulties and come out shining on the other side, it makes me like them more. As Ali said, it humanizes them. Real James, who has struggled and overcome is far more interesting than shiny, perfect James. Those kind of stories give me hope that someday I will have a great story about working my ass off to make it all better.

  5. This is a very insightful perspective, and I not only love it but entirely agree.

    It’s interesting that perspective DOES come into play, though. As you know, we my wife and I have been struggling over the past few years. When I write about it, I come from a self-effacing humorous angle and it seems to work, but it’s not to promote or solicit anything, it’s simply to say, “Hey, look at this ludicrous situation I’ve gotten myself into.”

    A few years ago – just before we got to know you (James) – we were staying in a house a friend let us use, but it was out in the desert and I didn’t have a car. So I bought this cheap bike and was huffing back and forth a couple of miles on a desert highway in the heat of summer to access a county bus to get to and from a crummy job I had.

    One day I was returning home and a friggen PIT-BULL tore loose out of a fence and started chasing me. This was after I’d nearly been hit several times by passing vehicles clipping along at over 70 MPH and had taken a spill about ten minutes earlier that had scraped up my knee. So here I was, being chased by a pit-bull that was closing in on my right leg while I pedaled as fast as I could with a bloody knee and trucks bearing down on me with horns blasting, all in about 90 degree heat.

    It was quickly becoming a very bad day.

    I managed to somehow out-run the dog and when I got home I blogged about the experience. I tried to make it funny. I think I succeeded, but a frequent commenter at the time said, “Wow, you sure do whine a lot.”

    This idiot was one of those who was hanging around and seemed to be bent on giving me a hard time no matter what I posted, so I didn’t give it much stock and eventually I blocked him because he always seemed to be negative. We’ve all had those. But the point is, whereas most people thought the story was pretty funny, he said I was “whining.”

    Someone will always see it that way, I think, so I can’t let myself care about that too much. I’ll continue to write about whatever is going on, and I’ll do my best to laugh at myself in the midst of it so as to get the reader to laugh too. But that’s the key. I sure wouldn’t be trying to sell something and come from a woe-is-me angle, hoping to turn sympathy into sales. Screw that.

    • Yeah, you’re an interesting case, Dave, I have to admit. After you posted, I thought long and hard about what makes the way you do things different, and I think I have it:

      You always convey, in some way, somehow, that you’re taking care of yourself DESPITE the situation. I know you’ve asked for help, but I also know that you’ve only done so truly when you’ve exhausted all possible resources and options (and then some).

      You hang onto your pride. Tightly. That makes the difference. You try to look for ways out before looking for handouts. Make sense?

  6. Great post, James. My instinct says that people want to do business with people who are successful. Perhaps it’s because, on some level, they are thinking, about companies that have falling or no sales, “what do other people know about these people that I don ‘t?”

    I disagree with you about lack of planning: you can’t control or plan for everything. But on the rare occasions when I have little or no paid work coming in, I work on pet projects, my website, marketing and so. Because I am always busy, always have some sort of work on, I do wonder sometimes if I have inadvertently deterred some people from approaching me because they thay think I’m too busy to take anything new on!

    But I’d rather risknthat than have people think I’m a loser!

    • It’s true that you should expect the unexpected, but in almost 99% of cases, bad situations could have been avoided with a little careful planning and forethought. And, barring that, they can always be resolved sufficiently with a good solution plan!

  7. Johnny says stories sell, James says TMI, Naomi says…well I can’t print what she says.

    There are limits, and there are gimmicks. A store nearby has had a ‘Going Out Of Business’ sign up for 20 years; it seems to me they’re not very efficient!

    See you at SXSW!

    • Hehehe, my 13yo commented on a shop like that recently. Even at her (not so) tender age she recognised it as a marketing gimmick after it said it was closing down for two years.

    • Hee! I love that we all offer conflicting information 😛

      I agree with Johnny. Stories DO sell. But you’ll note that both he and Naomi carefully select which stories to present to the public… and I’ve never seen EITHER of them say, “I’m going under. Please save my business.” Make sense?

      • Yes – fortunately I’m not confused, at least not about this particular issue. How could I promise my clients successful custom software development projects with ad copy that starts out ‘OMG I’m going under if I don’t get a contract today!’ :)

  8. Patrick Vuleta says:

    To reply to the original article rather than debate with Peter, I think the sympathy tactic is limiting.

    It’ll get sales, but being seen as ‘one of us’ only goes so far. People ultimately admire leaders who show them how to solve problems. Seeking sympathy sets you up as a follower. People may buy from you now, but you’re branding yourself as below the level it takes to become a true authority.

    I also think it’s a consequence of people just not liking confrontation. They want a safe harbour they can sell to rather than face up to their competition. But as competition starts to increase, you’ll need to be able to smash people aside and be seen as the better alternative. Better you take knocks now and strengthen rather than get a reward from your weakness.

    Sympathy selling’s a short term tactic for comfort, not a good long term approach. Won’t work in ten years. In mature industries you never see it done successfully. Online business is only about a decade old and after another decade you better believe it’ll come down to who can hit hardest.

    • Yeah, I’m not even talking about sympathy as a marketing strategy. I’m talking drowning-man-grasping-at-last-straw-before-admitting-failure kind of thing.

      Were it me facing that failure, I’d sigh and then say, “Okay, what do we have to work with here, how long am I going to need to buckle down and what can I do to make sure this never happens again?”

      Sadly… I’m not convinced many people think that way.

  9. This is so close to what I was talking to Amy Harrison about a few weeks ago. About how people use their past difficulties or rags to riches stories to boost their business to the point where it gets pretentious and how people who don’t have one feel at a disadvantage and keep mum about it.

    And I kept thinking, James is the perfect example of how to do it right!

    Personally, while the business owner talking about their present difficulties might seem more human to me, I won’t do business with them. If you can’t help yourself, how will you help me?

    Instead of talking about your difficulties, push sales, do a relaunch, partner up, DO SOMETHING.

    I love Ali’s point about how she confided in a few close friends. That’s the way to do it! If you’re having problems, you can’t fix them alone. Talk to someone you trust, get advice, see what you can do to turn around the situation.

    • I agree with you Patrick about the legitimacy of online businesses. There are experts who are smart enough to work from the comfort of their homes without getting themselves involved in ridiculous tax payment spent everywhere except for the welfare of the society.

      I know company sites that are terrible, while experts’ are so fantastic. Attracting trust for getting paid doesn’t come only by appearance. It’s built using several other elements.

      Your site could introduce you as a reliable powerful character or a suspicious personality. It all depends on how to present yourself through textual, pictorial, audio, visual, etc content among other things.

    • Agreed. To me, when times are rough, taking action is the only solution. And asking others for help should be the last resort… and I mean last. LAST. Last. So last, there HAS to be something else.

      Imagine Apple saying, “We fear going under. So please, buy our new iPad.”

  10. I am okay with people writing about how they lifted themselves out of a deep hole. Writing about past battles, even if you took a licking is a great way to put the “learn from my mistakes and don’t get involved in this shit” principle in place. But writing about problems and using them as a crutch to drive your business- that’s plain unprofessional.

    Pity and sympathy is not a substitute for a well thought out business strategy and good ol’ fashioned roll-up-the-sleeves work.

    BTW James, I think you meant “expert publicly announcing a lack of clients” instead of “expert publically announcing a lack of clients” :)

  11. Last weekend I went to a sale: “Raising Capital–20% off everything in the store.”

    I figured they were struggling financially, but I didn’t take it as begging.

    If their sign said: “Please, please, please buy from us, I need money for tuition…or a new roof, or … ” I would have felt differently.

    The straight out “raising capital” didn’t make me feel emotional about it. It was a win-win for everyone. The things I bought were things I would have bought somewhere anyway.

    The “Please…tuition, roof…” was aimed at my emotions and frankly, I don’t like businesses involved in my emotions. When a business is pushing emotional buying, they want us to purchase things we wouldn’t normally buy. So it is a win for them–a lose for us.

    Hope this makes sense.

    PS. Have a FABULOUS time at SXSW.

    • Hehe, if I’d seen a ‘raising capital, everything on sale’, I probably would’ve wondered why they didn’t bundle and package items for upsells instead of creating discounts!

  12. James,
    Great post! There’s good and tough stuff to think about here since “authenticity” tops my values list above all others. I’m underwhelmed by intentional poor mouthing as a marketing strategy. In the practice of primary care medicine, I think trying to get the sympathy would be an absolute deal breaker. However, I don’t want my public face to appear too “airbrushed” because part of our persona in our local community is our “accessibility”. Our clients seem to appreciate that they are not paying for the overhead of slickness and get more time with their doc as a result. I’ve got to admit, however, you’ve made Peter’s site look SO good/refined/intelligent and approachable that….hmmm … I’ve got to sit back and stroke me chin on this.

    • If you sit shoulder to shoulder with him, you’d make a matching set. 😉

      • Naw…Peter a has a much nicer beard 😉

        Btw, quoting your response to Ali
        “….And, I probably never would have shared that info had I not felt forced into it. ”

        Just so you know, that one story moved me so that it actually cemented me as your fan a few months ago…probably exactly because it was a very human crack in an otherwise flawlessly maintained curtain. It didn’t evoke my empathy for you half as much as for all of us as humans….and how far we still have to go. When my efforts with “he who shall remain nameless” bear larger fruit ,and I’m ready to revamp our web appearance, you and your work are SO riveted in my head that, trust me, James….YOU da man!

  13. Hi James,

    Enjoyed the post. It made me think. I find myself leaning in and out at various points.

    Where I lean in: begging for business brings out clients who smell desperation and may enjoy beating you up as a hobby. Folks who thrive on obtaining the lowest price even if it means the other business owner makes no profit. They do not subscribe to The Golden Rule in any way. An earlier commenter offered some wise words: if it’s not working change whatever you’re doing. And as someone pointed out, begging can be a ruse to get you to feel sorry for them. They may be doing really well and it’s just part of an act.

    Where I lean out:
    Some businesses have nice glossy covers but dull text when you start reading the story. Others have plain covers, yet the inside prose sings. And every business has to start somewhere. Many of today’s successful companies started in a living room, dorm room, basement, etc.

    As a logo designer, I’ve seen lots of bigger firms with fancy offices churn out rather pedestrian designs. I do not have fancy offices, yet I create unique designs after an extensive branding process. I give my designs my all. And I’ve got several designer friends doing the same level of high quality work. I’ve had a design buddy since I opened. We critique the work of each other, which has enhanced our respective designs.

    We all have a different method for finding companies we want to work with. I need to open the cover and see what’s inside before I decide. Doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong, just the way that seems to work for me.

    Best wishes for a fun SXSW!


    • Well, I’ll honestly take a plain, boring, storyless company any day over someone who wails about a bad month, a contract that fell through and a plea-bargain need for clients… I love a good story. But not in business!

  14. Excellent post. I completely agree with you; having gone through rough patches in my own business, I’d never let a client know that. In fact, even during the early periods in my business, when my clients were few… I made sure not to let them know that.

    I think people playing the sympathy card are allowing the lines of “human” and “professional” to become way too blurry. You can be human without detailing struggles… and I think you should.

    • That’s exactly it. It’s as if people are going to far and pushing the line with this strange need to be transparent… but that doesn’t mean going so far as to trash your own reputation, you know?

  15. Way late to the party on this one, but I wanted to say if this defines shallow, then Huzzah! I’m all for it.

    There seems to be this reality/daytime TV mindset that encourages people to cry, “Poor me” to get attention. And it seems to work.

    For some people.

    I don’t want to surround myself with people like that. They’re exhausting. Particularly the ones who reveal personal details. Am I unsympathetic? Not in the least. I just don’t want that kind of information mixed in with business. It’s a distraction, and makes me uneasy about doing business with that individual.

    We all face challenges, and sometimes awful things happen. Sometimes we all need help. But Pitiful is not a business plan.

    I’m with you on talking about it after the fact, when you can consider it a lesson learned. That can inspire people, and sometimes help someone through their own rough patch. That inspires confidence.

    Thanks for this, James, and have a fantastic time at SXSW. Wish I could be there–just to say hello.

  16. When I read this post in my email this morning, I couldn’t believe what a huge sense of relief I felt, seeing someone respected and successful write about what’s been baffling me for months, maybe years.

    The “poor me” marketing approach isn’t something I’ve ever been attracted by, nor is it an approach I would ever want to employ. For me, it would be all wrong – it would feel deeply dishonest, even if I were actually struggling (and as almost anyone who starts a business does, I certainly have in my time and probably will again).

    At the same time, it can be screamingly frustrating to see others employ it and apparently succeed wildly by doing so.

    So, thank you – from the bottom of my heart! – for making the case, and making it from a buyer’s perspective, against this approach.

    • I’ve honestly been wrinkling up an eyebrow at some people for a few months. I’ve even asked friends of mine if they get it, hoping I’d just missed something. But… no. I didn’t.

      It’s like this, for me: I’d rather dig a hole and die in it than write a post saying, “I need to fly to SXSW… donate so I can get there!” Yeah. No. Just… no.

      • I respect you, James, and for a while have felt that I’m the type of person who would irritate you (and others). I realized that my life was getting that crazy that personal life was taking over from business, so stopped blogging lest it become “This is why this week sucked.” Though I have been incredibly careful and only let a small fraction of the craziness sneak online.

        As someone who recently attempted to beg, without realizing it, I can see the following:

        – last year, two friends of mine ‘begged’ to get to Blogworld. In the case of Catherine Caine, her career has taken off since then and the community rallied around her. It does seem like ‘begging’ can get you over a bad slump quicker. It certainly didn’t hurt Catherine’s business, she is in demand and those that I refer to her RAVE about her.

        – some people aren’t honest as a ‘poor me’ approach. I honestly feel like I’m living a double life and posting the occasional post about struggles makes me feel more normal. I know it helps many who read it,

        – For a while, I gave so much to my community. The post i did, and then deleted, was my way of asking that community for help that I gave for far too long without asking for anything back

        I just wanted to post to add a different perspective. I don’t know whether it’s an age thing, or how I was brought up, but I’ve never really seen myself as having a business. I was just a person that was really good at something and told I should monetize it. I’m going to take time off to focus on building a darn business and hope that in 6 months or so, I won’t be living my mistakes so publicly.

        • Good thoughts, Jade, and I’m glad you wrote them out!

          There’s one thing I think is important in what you wrote, because so many people feel the same way: that by blogging and “giving” to their community, they eventually reach a point where they feel the community should give back.

          Thing is, that community never asked for anything, so it’s not realistic to expect them to give back, and I don’t agree with some methods bloggers have used to get their readers to pay for their luxuries. Bloggers give freely first… they can’t demand anything from readers, I feel.

          It’s a tough situation with lots of nuances for sure. Hang in there – we’ll all figure it out together one day!

      • I so get the eyebrow-wrinkling thing

        I’ve gone further; there are some people whose work I no longer respect or pay attention to, because I’m so tired of the drama. And some of those people are highly respected, with large followings.

        I don’t get it, but hey, I suppose if it works for them, that’s great. I know it would never work for me in my business – and I also know that I’m not likely to give those people my business.

        Everyone has a bad day every now and then, and there’s nothing wrong with writing about that. It’s the constant drama that I can’t quite cope with!

        As you say: it’s nuanced. Plenty of shades of gray involved, for sure.

  17. COMPLETELY agree… Usually when I read posts or articles, I’ve got things to add, or take away or slap on my two cents in some way shape or form. But with this, you left no holes for me to fill. As a man, I found that highly frustrating. Rawr. So mad props there.

    Oh btw, I did see a lil typo:
    “What make people think being desperate…” << I'm assuming you meant, "What MAKES people think…"


  18. It’s so interesting you posted this because I mind myself straddling the fence on this one. Personally, I would never buy from someone who’s struggling because, well, they’re struggling for a reason. Even a designer I worked with whose designs I ADORE turned out to be horrible in the business department. There was a reason his site looked like crap. Not because he was a bad designer, but because he was a procrastinator.

    Point being, no matter what the industry, having your shit together says a lot about you. I straddle the fence though because I’ve totally been there. Not anymore mind you, but with 99% of the internet telling you to be authentic and raw and honest I understand where the confusion comes in.

    I agree with you, but I do think it’s important to get the balance right. I like the occasional personal post or jokey copy that makes a business look like it’s run by people. But if a company I respect were to suddenly admit they were in debt and sitting in bed right now with their computer I’d probably reconsider my opinion of their business.

    • I’ve been there too, which is why I think I’m in a good position to say there are other ways to achieve success. Like you say, having your shit together says a lot about you.

      I like the together people. They get my money.

      But I do understand that many people are confused about this cry to be authentic and honest and transparent. It’s a complex situation and in business, it’s important to get the boundaries that we need to set down.

      Otherwise people risk doing something silly thinking readers are friends… when they’re really not.

  19. I’m totally with you on this although I suppose I may still buy from someone in this condition under certain circumstances. Like, if it was a product that I needed and I didn’t think I’d be needing support in the future on it, I’d buy from the person.

    But, if it’s a service or something that I’d like to see the person still be there in awhile for. Um, no.

    I don’t know, I’m trying to phrase this so that it doesn’t sound insensitive. Here goes. Like many, I’ve gone through all kinds of sacrifices over the years to run business. I work really hard for every little thing I’ve got and haven’t had the most support over the years except for from a few awesome people (like James!!).

    So, I don’t have a lot of sympathy or patience for this type of thing. It makes me sad to see people struggle, but if it’s a game you want to participate in, you really have to learn how to play and manage the ups and downs. It’s friggin hard sometimes, but that’s really just how it goes.

    There are a whole lot of ways to be proactive about it though and find solutions.

    • Ooh, something else I wanted to add to this because James has me thinking here…

      I think sympathy is very dangerous. It’s hard on the person who’s feeling it, but even more so on the receiver. Why? Because it takes away the receiver’s power.

      Better, would be to find ways to help empower someone so that they can sustain themselves. Sometimes, a little moral and practical support is a million times more helpful than sending $$ their way anyhow.

      Ok, I’m done now. LOL!

    • This right here:

      Like many, I’ve gone through all kinds of sacrifices over the years to run business. I work really hard for every little thing I’ve got and haven’t had the most support over the years except for from a few awesome people (like James!!).

      So, I don’t have a lot of sympathy or patience for this type of thing. It makes me sad to see people struggle, but if it’s a game you want to participate in, you really have to learn how to play and manage the ups and downs. It’s friggin hard sometimes, but that’s really just how it goes.

      That’s what gets me. Too many people want the attention, fame, money and popularity, but when it comes down to doing the actual hard work and laying a good business foundation that’ll last for years? Pshaw, forget it.

      But you said it best: it’s not fun and games. There are ups and downs, and you need to learn how to manage them all. Without trashing your reputation.

  20. Tell it, James!

    It seems to me that successful people are never the ones buying from the people weaving their stories of financial ruin and business failure.

    It’s unsuccessful people. It’s the people who are gasping for air themselves. It’s the people who are in the same position or with one email could see themselves in that position.

    This phenomenon is a nasty cycle. Those who are buying from the people begging are beggars themselves and will continue to be beggars until they can gets themselves a proper suit, tie, and attitude for a job interview. Metaphorically, of course.

    Thanks for a great post!

    • Well, actually, my beef is that some beggars go on to become quite popular… but I can’t quite figure out why. Then again, some people have long memories (like myself), so maybe it doesn’t matter!

  21. It amazes me everyday how many people buy from people that have no business selling that product or service. Take the 2min to dig deeper, and make sure the person selling to do A,, is actually doing A for himself. If he CAN’T do A for himself, then obviously his product is garbage.

    Yet people buy blindly… drives me crazy.

  22. Great discussion! Thanks to Naomi Niles for mentioning it on Twitter.

    I agree with James that I don’t step toward desperation, and whenever I’m feeling desperate myself, I notice that I somehow push business away. If I let myself get worried about making the next month’s bills, project backlog, etc. – then the phone stops ringing and the email stops pinging.

    Not only that, the quality of clients I book during that time period is much lower – usually lower-paying and more boundary-pushing.

    I know I have to keep MY mindset above the positive/negative mark at all times – or it reflects all throughout my business. It’s better not to book at all when I’m feeling down than to drop my filters and book badly!

    That said, I DO love hearing about Naomi Dunford’s and James Chartrand’s struggles, in the PAST tense, BECAUSE they came out on the other side. That’s where it makes me feel good – to know the dark times don’t have to be permanent – and then I want to reward that kind of toughness because I like to think I have it in myself.

    Strength and positivity attracts more of the same. The desperation ploy may appeal to some, and I don’t begrudge it to them – there are all sorts of ways to earn and interact.

    It’s just not my way.

    • You brought up an interesting point, Cynthia – when desperate, nothing seems to work. And when all’s good… well dang. The awesome just keeps coming, doesn’t it?

      I think the trick is not to get complacent with awesome. If things are going well, we should all be saying, “This is great – what can I do to make MORE of this happen?” A lot of people do the opposite… and coast on success.

      So when it bottoms out, they’re shocked and left with nothing but scrambling.

      Unless they’ve been working on making MORE awesome. Yeah?

      • Absolutely, James – and I find for myself a lot of times it’s like a sine wave – but the trick is to get the troughs to be more and more shallow each time, and the peaks to be higher and carry even more momentum through the troughs – and trust myself and my offering.

        Complacency in the high times is not so much my issue as overwhelm – trying to grow capacity to take full advantage of the momentum when it’s rolling. Am I admitting this on the Internets? Yes, I am. Shhhhh….(hides face in hands – if I can’t see Google, they can’t see me, right?)

  23. It has always SHOCKED me when people do this. Shocked. If you’re so good at what you do, why aren’t you thriving?

    My very first pitch-meeting as an SEO consultant, which turned into my very first client, started off with this question:

    “If you’re so good, why can’t I find you on Google? Why’d you have to find ME on Craigslist?”

    You may not know HOW people are measuring you, but they ARE measuring you. Fortunately, I was able to show this client the other websites I had which were ranking well, and explained that I had set up a new site for my consulting business, but the point was taken – people want to hire someone who’s good at what they do.

    If you beat them to the punch, and tell them you’re floundering, why would they pay you? So they can flounder too? That says a) this strategy/service doesn’t help businesses or b) this guy’s no good. Period.

    I had a good friend here in DC who sent out 100 letters to 100 businesses talking about how he couldn’t fill his client list, so he was offering a special 50% off discount, ACT NOW!. Horrible response rate, horrible suspicious pitch meetings, and the only people who considered hiring him wanted an EXTRA 50% off. That’s 75% off his standard rate, also known as “ramen money.”

    You know what? He took the business. The kicker is that when he surveyed them later, they revealed that they not only had EXPECTED him to cost roughly his usual rate, but that they low-balled him in the meeting, half because it seemed like his business was in trouble and they didn’t know if he’d deliver, and half because they knew they could get away with it.

    If I may paraphrase Shit My Dad Says, don’t reject yourself before your even start – that’s THEIR job.

  24. Killer post. It makes me think of competition shows where competitors shoot themselves in the foot by actively telling the judges what they screwed up before the judges had a chance to notice or actors in auditions telling the director “sorry, I forgot some lines in the middle.” Believe me, I’ll figure out for myself all the reasons not to like what you’ve done, and I can appreciate taking responsibility for your mistakes, but the least you can do is not actively point them out.


    • Ha, that’s a brilliant example! They don’t mean to blow their own chances, and they’re trying their best, and they’re all hopeful and praying and… oops. Pointed out the ONE thing the judges actually didn’t see. Which results in… NEXT!

  25. Wow. What a great discussion here. People are passionate on both sides of this one. I have to admit, I’m with you on this one, James.

    I think the trouble is that there are people who are desperate and really need the help and have run out of options and then there are people like Jeff described who use a story to scam you. Although I want to help the struggling good guys, it’s hard to tell them apart when there are so many bad ones tucked into the mix. People are cynical. It’s sad, but true. And, I’m just as guilty.

    But beyond that, people like to work with winners. Although some people may slap down their credit card for a sob story, I think many more won’t. I’m all for the underdog, but I don’t want that underdog doing my taxes if they can’t manage their own finances. :)

    Every business owner has had their fair share of hardships. I know I’ve had mine. But, I’ll only share them when, and if, I’m ready. And usually, it will be MUCH further down the line.

    I think this approach works well for some people, but it all comes down to personality and business approach. I think there are ways for someone to connect to their buyers without sharing all of their nitty, gritty secrets. I, for one, don’t want to build my business this way. If others do, more power to them.

    • Peter Shallard often says that people who run out of options do nasty things… but he’s also mentioned that in desperate times, people have trouble seeing the options that are available.

      I think a good way to make sure you keep your options open is to set rules. For example, “I will never do X. Ever.” When you adhere to your own rules, you force yourself NOT to consider that an option… which means you’ll look for other ones. Better ones.

  26. Dang James, ‘brand-new rocking’ didn’t do this post justice. It’s rare that I’ll read every comment in a strand like this, but it has been the best discussion I’ve seen online in a while.

    My thoughts are simple: Be personable. Be real. But don’t give me your dirty laundry…..because it stinks.

    Ya feel me?

    Well said James, with you bro.


  27. I’m swayed by swanky as well, but am sold and spend my money when I am certain the offering will truly bring benefit to me or my business. Nice, insightful thoughts here. While I’ve been writing all my life (like most of us), I took the full time plunge in January 2010 — just to see how it went. I have a full schedule of projects for various clients and feel my Web site can’t launch quickly enough. As a newbie, I need to read articles like this en masse. Thank you ! SG

    • I’ve written a few posts about measuring the potential of a purchase insofar as its value and benefit to your business, and I think doing so is a smart way to spend dollars!

  28. Hey James

    I have to admit I’ve worked with companies on both sides of the fence. Do I support struggling businesses? I do, partly because I hate to watch that person fail and partly because whatever it is I’m paying them for isn’t vital if they goof it up. When it’s something important, I seek out the ones I know understand business and can feel confident working with.

    I find the level of success struggling people have vs successful ones fascinating. The ones I’ve helped often continue needing help for years afterward. It’s like a lemon car — never seems to work right, regardless of how much you sink into it. Those I work with who are successful generally seem to go on to bigger and better things all the time. Many of them I’ve learned a lot from.

    That being said, I wanted to address the whole pity-as-a-marketing-concept thing. I have trouble feeling sorry for people in a tight spot when they whine and complain about it. I’m of the mindset that, if you really are in a tight spot, you’re in a bed of your own making. If you want a different bed, you have to make a new one of your own. You don’t have time to collect pity.

    You buckle down, work hard, and get yourself out of it, because ultimately, that’s the only way you’ll ever be able to get out of the hole you’re in and stay out. I’ve seen far too many people who play the pity card because they enjoy it, and would rather take the easy way out for the rest of their lives, than do things the right way and stand on their own two feet.

    The only things worth having are the things you have to work for. The lessons you learn when you work and genuinely earn the money are priceless. They’re the only things that will carry you forward in the future. You can’t move on until you learn those lessons.

    That being said, there are always exceptions to the rule.

    • People go to great lengths to avoid having to change their behaviors, their environment and their mindsets. Humans are lazy that way.

      I think those who decide to put in the work are the ones that change their lives, and the ones who keep trying to avoid work or who keep saying they’re too “afraid” to do XYZ… well, like you said, they never change a thing, do they.

  29. I would have to wholeheartedly agree with James. I don’t ask to see financials to prove a business is doing well, and I sure as hell don’t want to see them if it is doing poorly.

    Business is business. The minute you make it personal, bad things happen. This was one of the hardest lessons I learned in my business. In fact it is the exact opposite, yet same premise, as covered in this article.

    By trying to “help” people who had fallen on “hard times”. I almost made my business go under. And you know what, those people kept taking, and taking, and taking until I was forced to cut them off completely. After their “hard times” were over, the expectation that I also needed to earn a decent living was no longer feasible for them.

    Hey, I’ve had good times and hard times. I help others, and plenty of people have helped me. Not because I cry about it, but because I work hard to fix those things causing me to fall on hard times. When times get hard, I work a little harder. When times are going smoothly I know I’ve followed the correct plan and path and it all balances out again.

  30. You are right on all accounts. On the internet, you have to do things differently, especially if you are a business owner. Great stuff james.

  31. Rings true. Great post.

  32. Wow, that was harsh! But a necessary harshness methinks. People who buy writing services from some cheapo freelancers usually get excuses like “my laptop broke down” “one of my employees got sick” yadda yadda yadda. But you’re right James, a business needs to get serious showing it can deliver excellently!

  33. Well said James.

    I agree with another commenter on here too. It’s important to be authentic and often being transparent helps businesses too. But it’s not cool to whine and whinge about things. Surely that has a negative effect.

    However, there’s some great examples of people saying how their site has only 100 visitors a month, showing people how they are are planning to build links and grow their income and transparently chart their progress. Whilst their growth is small and some people might see it as tiny – the way they go about it and tell their story is really compelling. Especially as they are positive, proactive and making actions/changes rather than just complaining about somethings. Hats off to these peeps!

  34. The only beggars I come across are people on the streets. When I’ve seen a “Please Donate” button on a website, the website is more often than not a charity, campaign organization or a body offering open source materials which have been developed by geeks doing it simply cos they love what they do. What companies beg for business? Marketing and promotion is one thing; begging is another. If a business is begging for business, it can’t be a business.

    • Charles Nicholls says:

      Well Sean I have seen it that way of course but I have also seen small businesses with a donation button for the purpose of defraying costs of hosting that website, and I see nothing wrong with that either. In all reality I see advertising as begging, buy this buy that, call us, here’s the number, please call, and give the number out half a dozen times before the commercial ends. To me, that’s begging.

  35. Amen!! Someone had to say this!

  36. ‘Self-proclaimed experts who struggle seem to continually dodge the misery-ending bullet because of it – and I don’t get it. They expose the nitty-gritty details of their struggles, like how they’re going through a divorce, seeking medical attention, losing their home or unable to afford flying somewhere posh, and then they pitch their services.

    Incredibly, they get sales.’

    I don’t know if this is so incredible, because it takes it down to a personal level, it creates feelings.

    Begging is for sure annoying for those who detects it, but whether we like it or not, it is a way to remind people that your business exists, have something people should check out and that you want a reaction from them. Repeated messages sticks to peoples mind. And most people don’t have the ‘business’ perspective. They won’t necessarily analyze down to the very bit how you market yourself – in this case: how much you would be begging. So, for instance, if there’s only an undercurrent of it, it won’t come out as begging to most people – only to those who know their marketing stuff.

    It can be a very tricky thing to draw the line between begging and not begging in marketing. I have some people in my twitter stream who send out auto-tweets pretty much every hour, and some even more often. They really are SCREAMING for my attention. Wouldn’t this be a case of begging? I’d say it would. And they’re not only annyoing me, it also comes out as mechanical and impersonal.

    Don’t get me wrong though, I absolutely agree with the overall philosophy in your post. We should above all improve on our work and the way it gets presented to people. (But that should be very obvious though… why present something to someone if you wouldn’t buy it yourself?)

    I guess what marketing is really about is camouflaging it as smooth as possible, so that it doesn’t come out as begging.

    • Having read this post some days ago (and commented), it’s only just dawned on me that there’s something missing here. In the realm of fiction publishing, a whole new genre has sprung up to the extent that it now has a name and a shelf label in bookshops : the Misery Memoir. Not my cup of tea at all, but some people (and must be a large number) are obviously buying the stuff. The genre variously describes the “nitty-gritty details” of the author’s struggles and everything else that’s berated in this post and comments. Which just goes to show that for some people there’s money to be made out of misery.

  37. Good marketing isn’t about begging for a sale. Marketing is simply showing a person why a certain product or service will make their life better. If you have to rely on anything except the merits of your product to make a sale then it isn’t as good as you think it is. Gimmicks are for people with sub-par products.

    I don’t care what your situation is. I donate to worthy causes. I buy from businesses. You created a business instead of a charity because you need to support yourself. An open source is a perfect example. An open source project was developed simply out of love. There was never an intent to make a long term profit off of it. That’s why it’s free. Most of the time I would have paid for a similar product anyway. When I donate I’m simply keeping the project open for others.

    When I see a donate button on a business website plus products for sale it makes me wonder about the quality of what they’re offering. If the product is that great in the first place shouldn’t that be enough to keep your doors open? Transparency is great but if you need donations in order to survive it might be time to put away the Kleenex and get to work.

    I’ve had a lot of not so awesome stuff happen this year. I got caught up in a few bad business deals and lost a lot of money. My health hasn’t been terrific. My family is insane. I could cry about it, or I could pour everything I have into making a kick ass product. Tears won’t build a business and donations don’t create long term customers. Great products do. If you have a wonderful product with a solid marketing plan there is no need for begging.

    Sorry my first post here had to be rant. This is something I’m passionate about. I’ve spent countless hours learning about the right way to handle product creation, marketing, and general business on my own. It really burns my cupcakes when some douchecanoe pushes a sob story just to get a few sales.

  38. Great post, James. I completely agree and I think this, as so many other little (or big) POV’s you bring to readers do, applies to all kinds of things in life.

    What I find funny is that people seem to turn to the ‘oh but that’s not it, my product is awesome but because of the circumstances it’s not enough’. Dude, if you can’t deal with the circumstances then what makes you think you’d be able to deal with the next barrier? Whining is not exactly confidence-inspiring. And if your business is failing because you started off broke, then that’s a problem, not a free-pass.

    Bottom line, if you need to beg and whine then whatever you’re trying to sell isn’t cutting it and it’s not gonna get any better if I help you stay afloat without putting in the work…

  39. James,

    I totally agree with you on many points.

    I firmly believe that, we put energy in everything we do, and energy may be our most valuable capital after all.

    If we put energy in something Reductive (think of it like a – that is in opposition to a +), like complaining (just an example,) then we will simply have far less energy to do great things, because the mere fact of thinking about things we may complain about, would keep us at that same level of being not-so-great.
    And then compromise any chance to be totally as awersome as we should be.

    I believe that if we concentrate all our energy to provide the best of us to others, in a positive way, always seeking excellence, and being as excellent as we can be, then we will receive excellent feedback, and excellent results.

    Another point is, how controllable is ‘conveying petty’ in terms of results? Then finally, is it really necessary? Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary at all.

    If a business depended on how much petty it conveys in order to survive, then just imagine the awful image it may be forced to ‘create’ for themselves? It’s one word: Gore! More suitable for a bloody video game or some horror movies :)

    In opposition to that, I don’t believe neither in the trendy, tactically ‘violent’ approaches, like, being a threatening person who want to convey the idea of so-called freedom, or encouraging nonsense rebellion against nothing clear, using nothing else than bad beliefs… this won’t go far, so for people who think they can emulate another person’s arrogance (for example) without being naturally arrogant themselves, I say they act just like sheep who lack visibility, and will be followed by mislaid sheep :)

    My point is, don’t play with people’s feelings, and respecting others comes only after we respect ourselves and, respect, is really one of the truest values that can bring true shiny excellence in the long run.

    Not to say that I am perfect and that I never complained about anything, but I think it’s important to look at complains and ‘bad luck’ as being an alarm of lack of energy (bad luck: I believe in opportunity rather than chance), you can call it ‘bravery’ or ‘courage’ too, and anyone must quicly do everything it takes to deal with some real life facts as being an untold real ‘asset,’ rather than a public carnage.
    Asking a friend for help? It’s certainly acceptable in emergency situations, but singing it on the roofs may be, well, not so great :)

  40. I think these points are very true, why should I want to do business with you just because you are struggling?
    There highs and lows in business, and everyone understands that this is part of doing business. Now making it a big deal just because you want to make a sale is not professional.

    Maintaining our confidence in trying times is tough, but it is a necessary ingredient for maintaining your customers credibility of your business. No one wants to do business with a cry baby, after all, you possibly cannot give what you do not have. If you can’t solve your problems, how sure am I that you can solve mine.

    But this is the internet, people do stuff and get away with it. What I have just come to realize is that they can’t survive like this for long. Time will differentiate the winners from the whiners!

    Thanks for sharing James.

    • interesting, thought-provoking, but best of all is that you’re a woman writing from behind this guy mask. I LOVE IT. Also love that you’re in Montreal.


  1. […] saw Jeff Sarris from Men With Pens several times. He was there with his wife Marla. I’ve known the two of them since last year, […]

  2. […] Are You Begging for Business? – by James Chartrand, […]

  3. […] I reined in my thoughts and emotions and calmed down. (Some might say I shouldn’t “air my failures“, so to speak, but I’m just telling you the truth of what I’m going through. […]

  4. […] Read this in full Tags: business advice, freelance writing […]

  5. […] Don’t beg your readers or potential clients for money just because you’ve hit a low point. […]

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