It has taken me five years running my own business, to realise that business is like dating. It can be humiliating, a rush and at times a bloody slog. But how do business owners remain open and curious, rather than cynical and neurotic, waiting for that right prospect to come along?

It’s complicated

You’ve hung out your shingle. You’ve decided to invest in your business to keep growing. Everyone loves you, cheers you on and applauds you.

You don’t know a good relationship from a bad fit, heck; anyone keeping the lights on is a good fit in your book. I’ve been there.

You get busy being busy. So you hire more people. Because someone once told you that if you’re not growing, you’re dying. And then, just like that, the lights turn on and the dance is over. You look around in bewilderment. Some of the people you danced with look different with the lights on. Some of the moves you considered, seem downright undignified. You’ve got a choice:

Brush yourself off, distrustful and hardened by battle. Or, smile at the memories and remain open to your next opportunity.

Marketing is the mistress

The marketing game can be a treacherous game. You see, marketing is a fleeting affair for many of us. We love it when it’s new, when it’s hot, when it’s fast. There is little patience for the marketing mistress.  Marketing can please us with results, and even then, get shown the door when the act has reached a certain crescendo.

While the mistress was planning a white picket fence and more evenings in the snug embrace of their adoring admirer, this admirer has been spent. Has reached a destination. Or simply cannot go on. And so; their paths must part. A little awkwardly at first, with promises of more long walks in the future. Over time, the new rhythm of reality sets in.

The wife

Then there is the mistress who manages to hang in there. Year after year, satisfying their clients’ needs. Growing together, solving problems together, bound by a 3 year contract.  This mistress becomes the wife. Sometimes a trusted partner, other times a battered one.

Mostly on edge because of new concubines entering the market. Seeking the attention of their relationship. Luring him with newer offers, better deals, faster results.

I don’t blame these courtesans. I once was them, still am.

It’s his fault isn’t it? That he tenders out his love for the cheapest price. That he asks the new mistresses to pitch against the wife, heck; probably extending the offer for the wife to partake in this most morbid form of hunger games.

Marketing is about values

“Marketing is about values. About purpose. About your place in this world” (Steve Jobs, Apple). 

And as such; it is time we rethink the treatment of the marketing mistress. But not in the way you might muse.

This is not a story about the bullying of a helpless victim. Nor a tale of sisters doing it for themselves.

It’s a story about the way things are. And the way things will always be. Because if you’ve followed me down here, all the way to our fourth paragraph; being a CEO, accountant, consultant or business owner. You know this:

We are all the mistress. We are all the wife. We are all the client. In fear of sounding like a poor woman’s Echkhart Tolle, we are all one.

It’s about manners isn’t it?

It comes down to manners. Do our best. Do good. Be good. And know that after five years in business, if you are a new concubine, wife or prospect looking for the right relationship. I see you. I wish someone had told me five years ago not to worry so much about the fleeting affairs. About being good enough. Or the awkwardness of a break up. It happens doesn’t it?

And good riddance for it. Because just as we thought we had lost hope there was that special someone out there for us. Just then, there is the promise of a new prospect on the horizon. And we brush ourselves off and meet the opportunity with an open face. This one could be the one.

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