Betsy Wiersma's clients ranged from large corporations to the mayor of Indianapolis. Her company, $1.5 million Wiersma Event Marketing, once put on a city festival for 30,000 people. She draws the line, however, with would-be customers who can't (or won't) define their business goals.

A large corporation all but begged Wiersma to take on its trade show booth. It was a major show, and the budget was considerable. However, the corporation didn't want to talk details: It wouldn't define what it wanted the show to accomplish or how much traffic it expected the booth to generate. Its attitude was "read my mind," recalls Wiersma. When a customer dictates "Just do it!" it's a sure sign that time-consuming and expensive changes will be necessary after the planning stage is over.

Another company might have jumped at the challenge -- and the money. Regardless of how forthcoming a customer is with fees, Wiersma refuses to sign on until concrete goals and timelines are hammered out in writing. She must have done something right; in January 1998, Wiersma sold her company to St. Louis-based Creative Producers Group.