Here’s a little story about something that happened the other day.

I live and work in a very small town. My office used to be located in the front bedroom of my home, but now I work out of my brother’s house. He built this house last year, specifically for his business, and I rent an office from him.

My brother is an accountant. He runs his small number crunching business and,  for the most part, it’s a successful operation.

Last week, something interesting happened.

A lady entered the office and immediately starting laying into my brother. She was telling him off with just about every word in the book. She was going somewhat ballistic.

I’m not privy to any of the conversations in my brother’s office, but on that day, the noise and words could be overheard.

The interesting thing was, I could hear my brother trying to explain his confusion to the lady. She wasn’t about to let him get a word in.

The lady ended her tirade by storming out of the office and slamming the door behind her. I watched from my office window as she left. I was worried she would hit my car as she stormed off.

I asked Wes what it was regarding and he wasn’t sure. He explained that he had never met this lady, but did taxes for her son-in-law.

He made a phone call to the son-in-law and explained what had happened. After a few moments of thought, the son-in-law figured it out, and here’s the kicker….

She had the wrong person. The tirade was intended for the financial advisor and not the accountant!!!

Needless to say, Wes instigated the 80/20 rule and made a decision that she would not be welcome as a new paying customer. Wes made the right decision here. Even though this was a mistake, it was a glimpse into the future of a potential problematic customer.

She never returned to apologize for the mistake.

The first lesson here is for the business owner:

Choosing your customers is just as important as hoping a potential customer chooses you. I felt bad for the financial advisor the next day. I’m sure she was even angrier once she realized the mistake she had made.

It was nice to know that Wes would never have that problem with her again. He chose a little less money for a little more peace of mind.

Good choice.

The second lesson here is for the customer:

You need to be careful about what you say and the actions you take. In a small town, you’ll never know when you’ll need a favour or your actions will come back to haunt you.

Regardless of the mistake, and the bad day this lady may have been having, a ruthless tirade of threats and anger is rarely worth it. It doesn’t do anybody any good.

This lady will live a shorter life because she can’t control her stress, and poor Wes’s day was ruined as a result of mistaken identity.

The other day, I acted like an email cowboy. I was owed some commission money from a company, and I wasn’t getting paid. I pulled out my guns and let the shots fly.

Afterwards, and most immediately, I regretted the email. The email did get a swift response, but I hadn’t thought it through before sending it.

Just like the real world and the small town I live in, the internet is a small community. The actions you take and the things you say on web forums, chatrooms, Facebook, and Twitter are very similar to a small town you may live in. You’re not as anonymous as you’d like to believe.

Be careful what you say and to whom. It’s a small world after all.