Friday, May 22, 2015

#Startup Say No to a Customer Proudly

This is the story of yore. There are times when you hit a low while starting up or even in a mid-growth crisis - those days you would want to delete from your calendar.  Sometimes, your calendar looks like a blackhole - depressing.  
One of those days, I had asked a prospect to pay an advance - I normally take advance for work, but this was a crisis that I was bent on avoiding.  The compensation was to be against a new project, and he was all fine.  It was an honorable deal, and the customer seemed to understand. 
It cuts both ways - Customers have to be sensitive to startups' payouts
The following day and the next, the payment never came.  The prospect did not pick the call or return my messages - those were days of my crisis - as that was only way out I could think of to crossing the bridge without borrowing.  My anxiety grew and I tried reach him, I would admit, rather a little nervously. 
The customer finally responded after two days - by the time, I had found my way out somehow;  he said I was chasing unnecessarily and he had been 'busy', and I was overreacting.  I told him that my crisis had blown up, and I had been smithereens; and I sought help, and not alms.  The last thing I wanted was to be judged - as the advance was requested to help me blow over a crisis.  The customer said lets do business.  I refused.  
I wrote an email regretting the inability to proceed, and withdrawing the request for advance.  After all, my terms of the deal was a help at the time I needed.  And for me, this was a failure of commitment - and I said 'no' to the customer proudly. Somehow the cloud passed on.
Has your customer breached a commitment?  How have you handled it?  Would be interesting to know. 
- Ashok Subramanian
(C) Cherunathury Tech  Ventures 2015


At May 25, 2015 at 5:44 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rather funny you say that you take advance, which means that you would not work on projects that await payments and that would leave you better off than others who work on credits. What is not understandable is that you asked the customer for advance for warding of a crisis that had to be bridged. How can you be in crisis if you work on simple terms of taking an advance?

At June 3, 2015 at 4:09 PM , Blogger Ashok Subramanian said...

Advance is always part some, and a financial commitment on part of a customer. The rest of the project is on milestone basis. The case in question - the crisis was triggered by a personal issue, and the advance is seen as a way out. The customer did commit and then rescind, and even letting go of the reason, yes, in principle, I work with customers who pay advance. Those are my business terms. Any issues with that?


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