As a small-business owner, it’s a question I’ve come to dread – How about we grab a quick coffee to discuss?
Is it because I hate coffee? Hardly. That bitter nectar is the oil my all too hectic weeks run on.
Is it because I hate people? Nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s because of one simple thing – time.
There are people in this world who thrive on the art of the schmooze and long, leisurely lunches spent introducing movers and shakers to each other. These people are typically employed within the confines of a large organisation of some sort. They’re not frantically trying to keep a one or two person operation from falling off a cliff.
As a small business owner, I’m looking at an often daily battle just to keep my head above water. Time is in very, very short supply.
When you factor in context switching, that “ten minute coffee” you’re talking about translates to around ninety minutes disappearing out of my day. A pretty expensive beverage when you look at it in those terms.
I’m not ruling coffee out entirely though. There’s a grand total of five scenarios for making that coffee date work in a way that isn’t going to put a serious dent in my working week.
- We let our fingers do the talking
Coffee’s nice. Coffee is a wonderful, magical invention. We’re all on the same page here. But we don’t need to be in the same place to drink it now do we?
If all you’re really asking for is ten minutes of my undivided attention then I’m more than happy to provide that – over the phone.
You brew up your cup of joe, I’ll get mine going and then we can take care of business without having to drop everything to get to an arbitrary location.
- I’m already doing business with you
If you’re an existing customer and want to meet to discuss an ongoing or new project, I’m all ears.
Clients are at the very top of my priority tree. Any mutually useful facetime I can get in with the people who are keeping my business afloat is time well spent. Hell, I’ll even pick up the tab for the coffees!
- You’re bringing me new business
If there’s one thing I love nearly as much as existing clients, it’s people who recommend new business to me.
Referrals are the lifeblood of any small business and if you think you’ve got someone you’d like to pass on to me, I’ll leap at the chance to discuss it with you in person.
- You’ve done me a favour in the past
One hand, as my Italian friends are fond of saying, washes the other. If I’ve reached out to you in the past and been rewarded with help of some kind, my door is always open.
- You’re a potentially new client
If you’re a serious prospect with a reasonable budget, timeline and the ability to give the final yes, I’m practically obligated to meet with you and attempt to further my business by convincing you we’re the right firm at the right time.
So, there we have it. If there’s money at play or the opportunity to build a useful commercial relationship, coffee is a great way of putting a face to the name. In all other circumstances though it’s a luxury I simply can’t afford and there’s not too many small business owners who can.