Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference. I have had two experiences recently that reminded me of how effective a small gesture is in conveying customer appreciation.
I often write about how to create a business that supports you financially and that you love. But I’m feeling contrary today, because I’m inspired to offer my best advice for solopreneurs who aren’t interested in succeeding. If you want a business that doesn’t attract new clients, clients who are overly price-sensitive, or if all your marketing efforts are failing and if you want more of the same, then here are some tips for you, with tongue held firmly in cheek.
One of the scariest things about being a solopreneur is wondering if you will get paid by your client. Some people can get 100% of their fee up front, but most of us don’t, so we are always taking a risk that our client will decide not to pay us once the project is done.
I was “fortunate” to have gotten two deadbeat clients within the first few years of my business, and I consider myself lucky. They were both small projects, I learned something important from each one, and — surprise! — both clients eventually paid me. First I’ll tell you a little bit about each situation, then I’ll tell you what I learned from each one and how I now avoid repeating my mistakes.
One of the most common concerns I hear from my coaching clients is “my clients are too cost-conscious – they can’t afford my usual hourly rate.” My response, as uncomfortable as it may be to hear, is that it’s your job to find a client base that doesn’t think twice about how much you cost. Yes, I know it’s hard to find new clients… but is it really easier to try to get your existing clients to pay you what you want to get paid?
One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs is getting the client to say “I do.” Many of us don’t like being turned down, so we wind up not asking a question that runs the risk of eliciting a negative answer. However, you could be the world’s best marketer, a world-class leader at what you do, and skilled at eliciting your clients’ underlying needs, but if you can’t get the client to sign on the dotted line and approve your proposal, you aren’t going to get paid for all those wonderful skills.
If you have been in business for more than a couple of weeks, you have probably been asked by someone to donate your time and services for their organization. And especially if your business is still in its early stages, it can be tempting to say yes. “It’s a great way to market myself”, you tell yourself. “They’ll see how great my work is, and then they will pay me.”
I was chatting with a colleague the other day, who was concerned that she had not heard from a client in a while and she was starting to imagine all the worst possible outcomes. “The client hates me. He’s found someone else with lower rates. I made a horrible mistake and he hasn’t told me.” Blah blah blah… I know; we have all been down that road.
Lifehacker has a good blog post today, An Experienced Freelancer’s Guide to Finding Clients. I particularly like his discussion of the need for primary research BEFORE you launch your business. If you don’t understand why your clients will hire you, you won’t have much success finding clients.