Whether an infant child taking his first few steps to his loving father's outstretched arms or a fledgling startup with its first "real" money to invest in the growth of the business, you must inevitably trust the person on the other end of the equation that they will fulfill their end of the bargain. In the instance of a child's first steps, I have never seen a father not warmly embrace the child into his awaiting clutches.
In the corporate world... not so much.
At some point along the way, after hearing many pitches, you must choose to trust someone in the corporate world with the intention of furthering your agenda; startups have to do this all the time. They interview companies of all sizes and eventually make a hiring decision in hopes that this company will fulfill its obligations and do what they said they would do in their pitch -- to help the paying company attain their goal.
The problem arises when the company does NOT meet your expectations?
Our company interviews a number of marketing firms in our local area. After a series of interviews, we decide on the largest and most noteworthy in the city. There are clear indications from the outset that things do not move as quickly as was promised. Our company asks for a meeting with the owners (principal) to explain our concerns. The principal agrees to do better. Another month passes. Again, a meeting with the principal. He agrees to discuss with his "team" if they are properly equipped to work with startups. He agrees they are, and we proceed. Two months later, we find out our two main contacts on our team have been fired. No explanation to us. Since things are now clearly not working, we ask to end the relationship. The marketing company says they fulfilled the letter and spirit of the contract, and we owe our full contract price. Melee ensues. We end up paying way more than we should have for an inferior work product.
We hire a large media company to handle another kind of marketing for us. Our goals, like any startup, are to get more traffic and, in our case, more loans through the system. We are paying a substantial amount for a year-old company. We start out with one of their vendors (a company under their umbrella). It is not working. Our rep agrees. "They have too many clients. You need more specialized care." He routes us to another company; again under their umbrella of companies. We feel more confident and things start off well. But, after a few months, they lose momentum and we lose traffic, loans, well... momentum. We ask to get out of our contract, melee ensues... you get the idea.
The neophyte in me thinks: "Why do these companies not stand for something, admit their misgivings, and make it right or refund or credit their work?"
So, what can be done?
Memorialize everything: this goal, should be met on this date, and these are the ramifications if they are not met, and these are the succession plans if they are met.
Learn from us.
Trust no one.
And when you find a company that actually stands for something, may you have a long and mutually beneficial relationship with them.
This post originally appeared on The Whole Magilla and was written by Chris Meyer, co-founder of MagillaLoans.com.