Assertiveness: Practical Tips to Manage Your Clients’ Expectations 67

Assertiveness: Practical Tips to Manage Your Clients’ Expectations

This is a guest post by Ben – an ex-investment banker and venture capitalist. Most recently he ran the new investment team for MMC Ventures in London. He now combines freelancing for start ups and early stage companies with running Acuity Training which is focused on offering high quality management and IT training.

Managing expectations is the key to working with a client successfully.  When the client knows exactly what they can and can’t expect from you, and has put it in writing everything becomes far clearer for both sides.  It also makes it much easier to assert yourself should there be a disagreement later on.

1. Vet your clients.

Sometimes, it is almost impossible to find ways to manage client expectations.  Some clients will have ideas for a project that is completely outside of their budget. Even if you manage to convince them to go for something more appropriate to their budget (smaller / less complicated!) it is likely that they will try to change the broaden the scope of the project at a later date towards what they originally wanted.

Sometimes this is a matter of ignorance, where they just don’t understand how big a job they are asking for.  Other times, clients will use every tactic to try and get more than their money’s worth.  In either case, it is rarely worth the time and hassle and you are better off just moving on to the next job.

Related: Freelancing with Assertiveness

2. Set realistic deadlines.

Sticking to your deadlines is an important part of delivering any work to a client, and failure to do so could see them withholding some of your fee, or refusing to pay you altogether.

Set deadlines that are comfortable, not ones that you can only achieve if everything goes to plan. Things often take longer than you anticipate, or unexpected things like sickness can get in the way.  Also, don’t forget to factor in any other projects that you might have running prior to, or alongside it, as you don’t want to be running late on multiple projects because of a setback on one.  Be assertive during the planning stages, and don’t be pushed into a deadline you are not comfortable with.

Should you look like you are going to miss your deadline, it is worth considering whether bringing in help would remedy the situation, before speaking to your client.  This will come at a cost, but sometimes it is better to take a financial hit than a reputational one.  If this isn’t an option, make sure you notify your client as soon as possible.

3. Set a specific scope.

It is not unusual for a client to change their mind, and request something that is outside of their original scope.  When this situation arises, it is important to assert yourself, however much you want to keep the client happy, as it sets a dangerous precedent.

Make sure that the client is aware that it is outside of the original scope, and tell them that there will need to be an additional charge for it.  You may choose to ignore the odd small request but as a general rule making charges for even the most minor of changes will prevent the client viewing you as a pushover and making increasingly demanding requests.

The more specific your original scope is, the easier it will be to argue your case that the client is asking for something outside of it.

4. Make your payment terms clear.

It is not possible in all lines of work, but if you can, write into your contract that the client will only receive the final product once you have received payment.  This might mean that you only give them a paper copy of a report, a low resolution version of an image, or a website that is protected by a password.  This way they can see that your work is complete before having to make payment but do not have full access to the finished article.

If this is not possible, send your invoice at the same time as you deliver the project, so that they can make the payment while it is still fresh in their mind.  When sending an invoice, make it clear how and when it needs to be paid, so that this cannot be used as an excuse for late payment.

If the project is being delivered and paid for in stages, make it clear that work will not commence on the next stage until you have received any payments due, and that delays will push back the overall deadline.

Related: Manage Your Money Like a Boss with These 6 Tips

5. Put everything in writing.

Once you have decided on the scope, deadline and price of the job, put it all into a written contract.  Go into as much detail as possible about what the client can expect from you, along with any requirements you have of them.

It is useful to split large projects into stages.  If these stages need approval from the client before work can begin on the next, make sure that they are aware that any delay in this will have a knock-on effect on your deadline for the next stage, and final delivery.

6. Remember to communicate.

Once you have agreed terms in writing and your work has begun, don’t stop speaking to your client.  Keep them up to date with progress, so they know how things are going, and where practical, share this progress with them.  If something is not as they expect, it gives you both the chance to discuss it and decide on an appropriate course of action before you go too far down the wrong route.

Related: How Networking is The Secret to Everything

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Hunt Down Your Goals and Become Fearless Like a Lion 12

Hunt Down Your Goals and Become Fearless Like a Lion

To be fearless is to dare yourself to think new thoughts, take risks, fail and find the courage to start again.

In order to change, you must face the uncomfortable, because fear is not supposed to run you. Instead, it is a call to action.

We all have fear and we must never let it paralyze our dreams. If 2017 was an unsuccessful year, hopefully, this article will inspire you to take action.

I know how it feels when you are tired of listening to those inner voices of doubt. Slowly, the anger builds up inside. Despite those feelings, you can channel fear and anger in the right way and start to hunt for your dreams. Throughout my life, I felt a renewed hunger and drive to succeed when I simply let go of denial, accepted full responsibility and took affirmative action.

“Everybody wants to eat but a few are willing to hunt”

In today’s cold reality humans do not like to see anyone other than themselves succeed. Most will never take the next step to improve their life or the lives of their future generations to come. We are pushing towards survival of the fittest.

Tell me, when a lion hunts does it care what is in its way? No. The lion is in pursuit because it is relentless.

You must become the king of the jungle. All the things that make up our lives are in intricate balance and you must fight to protect your dreams.

1. Be fearless like a lion.

A lion has no fear of any challenge, so how do I become fearless?

My simple answer to overcoming fear is that I wake up with the burning desire in my heart. The burning desire is created by repeating positive affirmations like I CAN and I WILL.

Hidden somewhere deep down within you, there is that courage to dare yourself.

Ask yourself who is really stopping you? Go out there and let loose and you will learn what great lengths you are capable of going to.

Your first job before you start hunting is to find the fighter within you.

2. Know your limits and then defy them.

You’ve reached a certain limit but just can’t seem to go that extra mile. Once you become fearless, you become limitless.

A mind that is fearless has the urge to take more action and that is where you become defiant. Try your best to understand what you are doing wrong as sometimes it is easy to give up hope. So focus your attention on studying the obstacle in detail.

As you achieve one goal, you have the mental capacity, maturity and experience to face a new challenge. Therefore, your hunger and appetite for more success increase. Keep pushing no matter what and you will eventually break through.

I know for sure it is difficult at first, but now you’ve successfully defied the odds.

3. Think of a plan, visualize it and execute it.

A lion stalks its prey from a distance and seldom charges as it grows closer and closer displaying deadly predatory behaviour.

Never rush to execute a plan as it takes careful selection. Be clear what you want just as the lion calculates timing. 

Visualization is a vital tool to programme your subconscious mind in order to create that bridge of what is non-existent into reality, which is capturing your goal.

4. Be willing to accept failure.

Failures are what propel anyone forward their current success. We can certainly learn from our failures, but our intentions should be to succeed in accomplishing our goals! Failure is then a learning process, not a reason to accept defeat. You are the king, show no remorse!!!

Motivation from Will Smith is perhaps one of my favorites. Here’s one speech:

5. Have a winning attitude every day.

To keep the cycle of motivation in constant momentum you must work hard too.

The winning attitude is created by approaching your life with discipline and putting in the hours of practice.

I like to perform a reflective practice and personal development, which enables me to identify areas where I am falling down and thus need to pay more attention to.

6. Don’t allow criticism to defeat you.

We are afraid what others think of us, what we have or what we are going to do. It is you that must make that self-promise to finish what you started.

Every once in a while, a lion must remind everyone what he is capable of.

You are the king of the jungle. Own it!

***

This article was written by Usman Mahmood. Besides working in the field of science helping patients through genetic testing, his purpose is to empower and inspire people in life with motivational videos, messages, articles, and stories from around the world. He loves to engage creative and ambitious minds on his Facebook page.