I’m covering unexpected aspects of working for yourself. This week we are talking about clients.
Generally speaking in the world of work you won’t have that many bosses, and usually after a few months you can get used to the tics and habits. When working for yourself you suddenly have several different bosses all at once, and you don’t have the time to be able to get to know them in great detail. This will often cause issues during the early stages of a project as you need to learn as quickly as possible this clients likes, times of contact and way or working.
I would say one of the main things that new freelancers don’t expect when it comes to the client relationship is just how transactional it can be. Generally people are used with the same people for years, getting rewarded for good work and moving up. When working for yourself quite often you won’t get a thank you, let alone being rewarded for good work! This can certainly be a little disheartening if you aren’t used to it, but it does have a flip side. Where you are stuck with a bad boss or co-workers for years in employment, you do have more choice over whom you work with.
Trial By Fire
One of the hardest things to both expect and deal with as a newbie are those bad habits that a few clients seem to have. During the first couple of years in business no doubt you will encounter more than your fair share. The late payers, the micro-managers, the everything is urgents. This is something that all self-employed people must deal with and undoubtedly you are more likely to attract these people purely because you are new and often because you’ll be cheap to begin with. Bad clients are universal and come in all shapes and sizes but both identifying and dealing with them are skills you’ll pick up.
What is Your Relationship?
This is a key question I like to ask during some of my mentoring, and It’s a good one. What is a client to you. They are not your boss but they may act like it, they are not your friend though they may become one, they are not your business partner though their success may well inform your own. You will have good relationships with many, but much like it says in The Godfather “it’s just business” and ultimately your working relationship may be affected by any number of things, often as time goes on you simply outgrow your old clients. Your relationship should always be professional, friendly and should never forget that you may never hear from them again!