I should probably give you all a bit of background about myself before I go into ensuing debacle that was this meeting. I started my own design firm in 2010, and when I say ‘started’ what actually happened was that I got made redundant when the company I was working at went into liquidation. So, armed with a few clients that wanted to work with me, I decided to go it alone and start my own gig. It’s not been an easy ride, and I’ve learned a hell of a lot along the way.
About 5 months after starting ILGT I had approached several medium sized clients when suddenly I got an email back. They’d seen my work, loved one of my projects I’d done for a competitor of there’s and they wanted to meet me. Great I said, what day and time do you want me to come to your offices?

“Oh no” came the reply, “We’ll come to you…” – Cue the cold sweats. How do you tell the potential new client that you’ve been working off of your kitchen table for the last 5 months?

Quick on my feet (you have to be in my industry) I replied; “Let’s go for a coffee… I’ll meet you in Starbucks in town, we can chat over a coffee and you can look at some of my other work.” I had visions of it being like an episode of Friends, or Frazier – everyone sitting around, relaxed, informal, creative. They’ll love it…

There I was patiently wandering around outside Starbucks waiting for my client, whilst also trying desperately to look like I hadn’tĀ arrivedĀ half an hour early. We met outside and in we went, only to be met by a coffee shop full of screaming kids, mums with prams and teenagers filling nearly every seat. In the corner was a small free table, so I took orders for coffees and they went and sat. It was awkward, there wasn’t enough room and they were uncomfortable and I couldn’t help thinking they thought I was unprofessional. So we sat, drank our coffees and managed to chat about their project. I didn’t get the work.

I’m pleased to say that they gave me another chance on a later project and they’re now a client and we laugh about that first meeting now. But at the end of the day I missed out. And ultimately I could have rented a meeting room for our meeting and potentially have secured the work.

Lesson learned I now still work from home (I have a studio in the garden) and I still have informal meetings in coffee shops, but for those important meetings when it’s a new client or when you need to present work effectively, I always rent a meeting or conference room.