I was just contacted by someone who has a small business that they run out of their home office. This is the type of client that I really enjoy working with...why, because there are so many things I can help them with besides getting their books set up or cleaned up.
As I've written before, this economy has created new opportunities for people who would otherwise be gainfully employed. People are going down new paths by starting their own businesses or exploring self-employment or contract work. Often these folks are just moving forward quickly without much planning. In fact, I think it is probably the rare individual who actually takes the time to do a formal plan...at least that's been my experience. Of course many self-employed people are providing services and those types of businesses are pretty easy to get started. Low overhead, low cash outlay. But even these people need help recording their transactions and keeping organized so tax season isn't a fiasco... which brings me back to what I wanted to mention here.
It is very important when you are meeting with your new bookkeeper, insurance broker, graphic designer or even attorney that you have enough conversation to determine if they are listening. I have met with people who fired their last bookkeeper or insurance agent or???? because they didn't believe that the individual was listening to them or understood where they were coming from. No matter how experienced, talented or informed they may be, if they are not good listeners, over time, things will probably get off track and you will become frustrated and not even realize why.
Listening is an important skill for anybody. Without this skill you will be missing one of the most critical factors in developing a relationship with your client. When you can listen and actually encapsulate what was expressed to you and repeat it back ... you will be surprised at the reaction of the party on the other side. Why? Because when someone feels they have been heard they are more likely to move forward with this person whether it is a business relationship or a personal relationship. When you know you are heard...that this person "gets you" you are far more likely to want to work with the person. The same is true for people you interview to work for you. If they cannot reiterate what you've told them then something is missing. There is nothing more frustrating than having people around you who don't listen. There is enough on your plate without adding this variable to your otherwise busy life.
So once you've determined that someone has the skills to do the job you want them to do, take the additional time to test their listening skills - then decide if you want this person on your team!