Ep. 8: All the Bad Sh*t in Business

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You guys! It's episode 8! We hope you've been loving season 1 so far and if you have, would you send Kristen a DM on Instagram @kristenforgione? Don't forget to rate, review, subscribe and download! It helps us so much to know what you like, what you don't, etc. So far the most popular episodes have been Episode 5, which was with Blanche and Rach and then Episode 4 which was Attracting the Right Clients and knowing your Worth, and Episode 6 which is the Unexpected with Turning your Passion into a business are neck and neck!

We really never dreamed that 10 of you would listen to this thing or that we’d be able to connect like we all have, so thank you. It’s really such a gift you’re giving back to us, allowing us to share my experience with you and help you on your journey, personally or in business.

Anyways, let's get to it! Episode 8. All the bad sh*t in business. It's a good one - it's juicy, it's real talk and I think recounting some of my experiences will definitely help you all whether now, or in the future. Listen up and tune in now!

 The show notes

In 6 years, there’s a lot of BAD SHIT that happens, just by default. And the crazy thing is that even some of the BADDEST shit between clients, employees, whatever! surprises you in the end. Sometimes you look back and think huh, that particular thing or experience kinda wasn’t that bad and was meant to happen because now I know x, y, z. There’s something calming in all those experiences that leads to confidence and makes your fuck with rating through the roof! (Before you go googling “fuck with rating,” we define it as what happens when you have enough experience where you decide you’re not going to get fucked with anymore - ha!)

This is a highly anticipated episode and of all of the comments, messages and feedback Kristen gets, a ton of it is centered around all the bad shit in business! Stuff people don’t want to talk about because it’s uncomfortable or controversial. We want to remind you that what Kristen is sharing with you today is her real experience and how she actually handled it, NOT what would make the best podcast. Also, every person handles situations differently so while you’ll hear on the podcast the real details of the situations Kristen went through, it is her opinion and experience, and nothing more.

Okay, now that that’s all out there, where to even begin.

Let’s start with Bad Clients…

There are two main points that will get discussed when it comes to bad clients:

  1. How to avoid bad clients

  2. How to deal with them when you missed the avoid part

In the beginning, for most people, it’s very likely that you’re going to take “bad” clients and instead of beating yourself up over it, you just have to get okay with the fact that it’s a right of passage in business, no matter what industry you’re in. From interior design to accounting, everyone deals with this and you’re totally not alone! These are the types of things that you can draw from in gaining experience and knowledge, and will make you a better business person.

In order to aid and help avoid bad client situations, Kristen came up with a few basic questions, based on her non-negotiables, that she asks herself before jumping into a new client project:

  •  Is there an organic connection?

  • Are we an aesthetic match?

  • Is the client realistic and all parties are on board? In other words, are the decision makers on the same page?

  • Do we like to communicate the same way? We’ve found that emails and text messages work best for us. In our business, communication is key so we need to be on the same page when it comes to modes of communication.

  • Are your conflict resolution expectations the same? This is huge! Sometimes you’ll deal with a terrible contractor, etc and if you and your client talk about your conflict resolution expectations at the beginning, you’ll be on the same page on how to deal with that person and there wont be any surprises.

These are basic principals for Kristen and the team. It’s a good idea to figure out what your non-negotiable parameters are and go through the same type of vetting process for your own clients. The best way to avoid bad clients is to hold everyone to the same criteria, listen to your gut and watch for the red flags. Even if you go through all of this, sometimes you still come across clients that are just plain bad. Sometimes there’s drama early on, or something seems off, and what we can say to you in that situation is to trust your gut, no matter how much that project might be worth (money isn’t everything if it’s going to cost you your sanity).

moving on to Bad Employees…

Like bad clients, chances are you’ll always have bad employees here and there. It happens. Kristen got some really good advice about how to deal with bad employees from a client, actually, that we ended up parting ways with because of a bad employee. He said, “Don’t beat yourself up over it too much. No matter how great of a boss you are, how much time you have or how much you do, sometimes people are just going to go rogue. That’s just human beings by nature. Also, a lot of times there are factors in people’s lives that affect them at work, that you simply just have no idea about.”

Read that over and over again until you have it memorized, and refer back to it when you inevitably deal with an employee that turns out to be less than awesome.

Another piece of advice? Hold your employees to the same standard as your clients! Along with creating non-negotiable parameters when vetting clients, Kristen has a set of similar questions she asks herself when hiring new employees:

  • Do we have an organic connection?

  • Are your expectations realistic?

  • Do we feel like we have an aesthetic match?

  • Do we communicate the same way?

  • Are your conflict resolution criteria the same?

We discussed this in episode 7, but we need to reiterate that when you’re making hires, do. not. compromise! And don’t hire someone out of convenience! However, if the going gets tough with one of your employees, it’s a crossroads for you as a boss - it’s either a “is this person coachable?” moment, or a “do i need to let this person go?” moment. For Kristen personally, she always default to trying to coach them so she knows she gave 150%, but that’s a decision that you need to make for yourself.

When it comes to employees, put expectations in writing, give them grace, be real and compassionate, and hopefully you’ll turn out on the other side of it. Bottom line.

sometimes, people are just plain Bad

Even if you do everything in your power to avoid bad situations, they happen. And the first thing you can do to prepare yourself for when that time comes is to accept that. In knowing that something bad is bound to happen, Kristen recommends starting your own “Bad Shit in Business” fund. Start taking even 5% of your revenue, or your credit card rewards, and transfer it into an account that you can use as sort of an insurance policy (aka a “rainy day” fund).

Bad shit in business costs you money - be ahead of the game! “If I would’ve had [a “Bad Shit in Business” fund], making some of the calls I had to make might’ve been easier. In the beginning, you tend to hold onto every penny and maybe put up with things longer than you normally would. Having this kind of “insurance policy” will allow you to put your foot down and not have to just deal because you can’t afford to do otherwise,” she says.

This will help you when it comes to those bad people you come across when you have to give a design fee back, when an employee quits or for legal fees when you get sued…yes, she’s been sued. It was something totally out of left field that lasted over a year. The case is now closed, and she won, but it was awful. Kristen got served by someone who bought one of her flips, for negligence in covering foundational and wall cracks, among other claims including impersonation saying that her company wasn’t legit. “That experience as incredibly horrific and makes you so vulnerable - it’s threatening,” says Kristen. “I told my parents and my dad said - in a very dad way of saying things - ‘Congratulations, you’ve made it. If someone is threatened by your success to the point where they think they can financially profit from it, you’ve got something worth fighting for.”

She hasn’t owned any investment properties since and doesn’t know if she ever will because this experience really soured the flipping business for her. But it’s also experiences like this that teach you so much about navigating rough waters, who you are as a businessperson, what you can handle, what you’re willing and not willing to handle, and so much more. You can’t ever know when bad experiences or people will happen, but you can preemptively prepare for them in the best way you can.

If you take nothing else from this episode, remember this: in all things, try to be ethical and hold your team to the highest regard and value. And even when it’s hard and you don’t want to, take the high road.