Self-employed people and freelancers enjoy the liberty of choosing their customers and projects themselves. Considered from a different angle they are presented with the challenge of securing a steady stream of assignments. The contemplation of customer acquisition or -care therefore depends on the vantage point. Self-employed service providers, who have already made a name for themselves and have a solid base of customers, are confronted less often with the problem that insufficient assignments or dissatisfied clients, who do not pay, jeopardize their existence.
However, neither “old hands” nor new comers are immune to a recession in assignments or the complete stagnation in the stream of orders. With some simple pointers freelancers or self-employed service providers can prevent such a hit or at least cope better.
Therefore check carefully …
The prudent choice of the right client is the base for a productive cooperation. You should not just work blindly for everyone who offers payment for finished projects. Rushed cooperation with unchecked partners is usually not very promising. Freelancers or self-employed should therefore inform themselves about the client before signing a contract. Unfortunately it is difficult to acquire information about unpaid bills. Disclosures of insolvency proceedings however, are announced publicly. Often, the client’s behaviour or rigorous negotiations are indicators that something is fishy. In the end, negotiation skills and the indentifying of black sheep are experiences gained over time.
The right expectations
There will always be clients, who are difficult. As long as you can claim to have provided the best possible service, there is no reason to be dissatisfied. It does happen that a service provider does not supply the service the customer expected. If, after repeated revision, the client is still unhappy, it is he or she who should rethink their expectations and wishes. Often, the problem is that the customer is himself undecided about his expectations. This dilemma should be identified and rectified before beginning a project, in order to avoid disagreements based on coordination difficulties. Not all clients or employers are unproblematic partners. You can be sure that there are always customers that have to be handled with care.
Why a project plan pays off
Should a customer be dissatisfied with the work hitherto done, the milestones of the project plan can be helpful in evaluating the results that have been achieved so far. Therefore, a project plan always pays off – in good times as well as bad times. In case of dissatisfaction, you can still “counter steer”, determine new goals and implement changes. In this situation, it is still within your power to control the direction a project is taking.
Make the best of it
Should it still occur that you, as the service provider, have completed a project with which the client is dissatisfied and refuses to pay, this should not intimidate you. Provided services are always useful as references in your portfolio. Furthermore, you will probably have gained knowledge throughout the failed project, which may be used as a guideline for future assignments. Even if the customer is not satisfied with the result of a project but realises that the service provider has exerted himself or herself in order to find a solution, follow-up orders might ensue. Under no circumstances should you bury your head in the sand. You should overcome irritation quickly.
In the end, it is a fact that not everything can go smoothly all the time. Setbacks will occur and are necessary and you will emerge stronger and wiser.