Getting a new client is a heady experience. It’s heart-warming to know that someone appreciates you and wants to work with you and downright thrilling to know that cash is on it’s way. That’s why it’s easy to uh, overlook, the little red flags that say you might be getting into trouble. Let’s look at two business topics where you, as a solopro, need to be decisive and create rules.
I don’t do that
Of course, you want to say yes to whatever a client needs or desires, but there are times when it’s better to say no and be clear about it. For instance, a recent client doesn’t do in-person meetings with new clients, however, she made an exception. Now, that client expects her to meet him regularly, doesn’t understand why she won’t and is disappointed in her. What’s your policy about meetings?
Another client is big into green so her rule is that she won’t produce print copies unnecessarily. She offers her clients a digital alternative, and if they insist, she shows them the door. You don’t have to go that far, just be sure you know how to respond when a client asks for something you don’t do. Emotional intelligence is about knowing yourself. The more your business is aligned with your personal values the easier it is to enforce rules and be yourself in your business.
Where’s the money
Money is an incredibly loaded subject, especially for solopros who struggle with knowing or believing your worth. Creating your own money policy takes you off the hot seat when clients want a discount and allows you to make better decisions.
Say you have a prospective client who wants you to do a demonstration project for her. That opens up several key questions:
- Do you do demonstrations at all?
- Will the demo be free or paid?
- Is the client’s work interesting, plentiful and well-paid enough to make a demo a good investment of your time?
I’m a fan of demo projects and used them to build my corporate practice years ago. I see them as an exchange of value- I give you a sample, you give me something like a referral or two or an extended contract, for example. Having a set policy makes it easier to say no or to be generous when you want, not because you feel pressured by the circumstances.
You probably noticed that drawing your line in the sand is really about saying no well. Policies do the heavy lifting for you. Write and share them on your site with prospective clients in a matter-of-fact way and that’s how clients will interpret them. Do you argue with the little sign at the doctors office that says, Payment due at time of service? No, you don’t. Most people don’t- they respect the rule.
You, my friend, are the thought leader in your business. You da boss! It’s your right (and responsibility) to shape the way your small business runs. If you don’t speak up for you, who will? I’d love to hear about whether you have lines in the sand- share in the comments.