Chapter Nineteen - Principles Matter: Honesty is the Best Policy - Diana Mahaffey
Fake it ’til you make it is an amusing expression and may have some limited utility in life, but resist founding your business on this philosophy. Never lose sight of the fact that principles matter, in your personal life as well as your professional one. An ethical, scrupulous approach is paramount for consultants who have — or who are establishing — their own business and their own brand.
In our current context of pervasive misinformation and “alternative facts,” misrepresentation can feel commonplace, accepted, and even expected in our society. Don’t fall under this spell as you start a new business or seek to grow an existing one.
Instead, embrace the old adage “Honesty is the best policy.” Mom will be proud, your potential clients will respect your integrity, and your business will flourish as a result of the trust you are able to establish.
Admittedly, you may feel awkward when a potential client inquires about specific experience or knowledge which you may feel you lack. Resist the urge to embellish. Be honest and upfront – and don’t internalize your perceived lack of knowledge or experience as a shortcoming. Viewed through the right lens, it’s probably an asset.
The process of developing a new or better understanding of a field, technology, market, product or business challenge can inspire more creative solutions or approaches that haven’t been considered. This is one reason consultants can be very effective in helping clients overcome the proverbial struggle to “see the forest for the trees.”
For me, every new client project is an opportunity to learn something new. This is what I love most about being a consultant. I embrace the learning process, which energizes me and provides
the fresh perspective that my client needs. It also helps me, as a writer, explain a topic and its relevance to my client’s target audience – readers who are likely starting a similar process of acquiring a deeper understanding.
Honestly characterizing how you would approach a project, your existing knowledge and experience, and your confidence to perform any additional information-gathering will enable you to establish trust and a shared integrity with your clients.
Stick to the same principles of honesty and integrity when executing client projects. Hopefully you won’t be asked to violate these principles or be in a position where they are being compromised by others. But if that potential is present in a possible client engagement, push back or walk away if necessary. You and the long-term health of your business are undoubtedly better off without it.
As an independent consultant, there is no corporate reputation that transfers to you, for better or worse. There is no facade to hide behind. You are your brand. Make a positive first impression and uphold high standards of honesty and integrity throughout all of your interactions with a client or potential client. The value of establishing trust cannot be underestimated.
As the founder and principal of Mahaffey Consulting, LLC, Diana Mahaffey creates comprehensive, written deliverables for a variety of marketing and other business needs. These might include:
· White papers
· Customer case studies
· Press releases
· Web copy
· Article submissions
· Company profiles
· Market and competitive analyses
· Marketing collateral pieces
Diana helps clients fine-tune and communicate important marketing messages via compelling, effective content that is tailored to the right audience. She also provides freelance writing services to agencies, organizations and publications.
With extensive experience developing, managing and marketing new products in dynamic, challenging environments, Diana brings excellent analysis and communication skills to every client project. She has worked for a wide range of organizations, both as an employee and as a strategic marketing consultant.
Mahaffey Consulting, LLC has been assisting clients with strategic marketing deliverables and written communications since 1998.