Going Above + Beyond: The Double Edged Sword

We have all been there. There was a promise of pizza and beer to help your friend move. And even though you’ve done it before, you went ahead and agreed. You’re a good friend. That's what good friends do. But you get to their place and you realize that a “packed apartment” means three garbage bags full of DVDs that consist of maybe 2% of the stuff and things that live with your friend. So the original request for help moving becomes help moving after you’ve helped them pack. Bummer. This sucks. Every. Single. Time. In my definition, going above and beyond is outside of the scope of exchanging value for value, especially when it is set in advance.

Going above and beyond is hard. Especially when you’ve been bait and switched. And this happens all the time. Going above and beyond can be difficult. But like everything, there are pros and cons to each.

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The (So Called) Pros of Going Above And Beyond

  1. Establishes you as compassionate. Compassion can be hard to convey to clients that are remote. And most online businesses are dealing with people remotely. But there are other ways to establish this. Instead of just emailing your client, you can hop on Skype for meetings that establish that you connect with them.

  2. Provides you with valuable experience. While it is said that you can’t put a price on valuable experience, I hardcore beg to differ. There is nothing wrong with charging no matter how experienced you are. Why is it that we buy into this internship mentality that you have to suffer to grow and have to do work for free to gain experience? You’re a business owner. Businesses exist to help people fill a need in their life and allow the business owner to eat and pay their bills. I’ll get off my soapbox now.

  3. Provides a challenge. If the extras are where you are being challenged, you need to readdress what clients you have or what products you are making. Reevaluate, boss. There is always a challenge you can pose to yourself. You don’t have to rely on extras that people want.

The (Kind of Actual) Cons of Going Above And Beyond

  1. You have set really crappy expectations for the future. It’s not just about getting those clients, it’s about keeping them too. Retention is a thing and now that you’ve gone above and beyond, and that client is going to expect that. For the rest of your time working with them and that can be years. Years of going one step beyond for the customer.

  2. Wastes your time a business owner. You run a small business. This can mean that you are working from home while your kids are in school or that you are burning the midnight oil after working your full time job. Time is not a renewable resource. And as a small business owner, your time is very valuable and has to be used intentionally.

  3. Detracts from [insert that thing that needs your attention here]. Any time your focus is on something, it is not on something else. Multi tasking is a total myth. Because you have a capacity for a certain amount of focus, anytime you are focusing on something that you are not benefiting from (monetarily, educationally, emotionally, spiritually, etc.) you are short changing yourself.

How To Avoid Over Extending Through Going Above and Beyond

There are several ways to protect yourself from the people looking for an angle (it’s sad, but they are out there), the people looking for a freebie, looking for something that they can get from you without an equal exchange in value.

The first is contracts. I know, it’s cold, you can trust your friends to pay you, and on and on. I have said all of it too. And every time I get burned, it makes me mad, hurts my feelings and changes the relationship with that person for good. A good written contract is not just to protect you, but your client as well. It is in place to outline exactly what can be expected of both of you and the finer points of your agreement. This doesn’t have to be cold. This can be in plain English and mutually beneficial.

The second is just saying what you mean. Don’t flower it up. Don’t make it sound like the “more professional” you. Speak clearly and make your points very clear. By doing this, you leave little to no room for any confusion or mixed up expectations. This, like a good contract, is in place to protect you both. When you’re hiring a plumber, you want clear pricing, when you can expect him to come fix your sink, and how long you can expect it to take. Boom. Clear on everything. And he is clear on where he needs to be, when, and how much money he is going to make. Boom. Clear as a bell. Set expectations in a clear, concise way and make it crystal clear.

Exceptions of Your Own Choosing

Making these decisions is ultimately on you. I personally have two people that I will always go above and beyond for. Two. And the best part about these people is that I have established boundaries and they don’t take advantage. I really dig them for that.

Making the decision can be difficult but ask yourself honestly when you go to go above and beyond if the end game of this is of equal worth to you as it is to them.

Where do you feel like you make expectations clear? Is there a part of your business that you feel like you could improve? I want to hear about it. Comment below and let me know what you think about going above and beyond.


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