Clients you should work for, and the ones you should not
There are many kinds of people and attitude. When it comes to serve a client it’s useful to know up front how to manage them. So when I have to evaluate if accept a project, or kindly refuse, it did me good to divide potential clients in two groups.
The ones I should work for, and the ones I should not.
If cataloging people were really that simple, being a freelancer wouldn’t be such a fun! Time to time you get even an excellent deal working for whom you shouldn’t have in the first place. Let me tell you, I’ve got my share of bad experiences and I’ve developed sort of six sense that helps me in spotting potential trouble in advance, specially when I’ve to decide if accept a new professional challenge.
Yes, it’s hard at the very beginning
Specially at the very beginning of one’s career as a freelancer one has to deal with two impulses: make a minimal amount of money and enrich his or her personal portfolio.
We’re driven by the passion we lavish into our profession to accept almost any kind of challenge. We have the strongest determination to mutate any potential wreck into an excellent work to enrich our portfolio.
Clients without hope
The reality is, there is really little you can do to help your clients if they have no idea about how to successfully run their own business or if they have not the necessary determination to hold on to their job in tough times.
In this sense, getting involved with them in a project where you put time and dedication to make it a success no matter what, will very likely bring to a failure.
The importance to have prospect, goals
There are circumstances in which a potential client is fascinated by our work and ponders about hiring us. Our contribution to their business can be determinant for their success. We can be the missing puzzle in their big plan. That’s what we aim to be and do, and that’s the reason why I do love my job.
The best clients are the ones who define their problems clearly and put their trust in designers to solve them. Cameron Koczon
Specially startups are in need of talented creatives for soon becoming winning companies. It’s indeed a honor being part of the team that will realize the dream of a great entrepreneur.
The small budget projects
So, you start speaking with a potential client and one of the first statement is “…but I have a small budget”. Which isn’t that scary after all. It’s probably a matter of fact. We all, normal people, start from small budgets.
But when this happen (and it happens quite often, isn’t it?) the first question you should ask yourself is not “will he ever pay me, enough?”, but “will the project ever see the light?”.
A strong determination
So, how do you evaluate a client? How do you determine if the project he’s proposing to you will, in the end, be worthing your time?
If you’re like me, you probably have the ability to see in even the most idiotic idea the potential to learn new awesome techniques or to improve your professional skills summed up to sincerely enjoy the work flow while designing it.
I know the feeling. I often thought that even if the budget was minuscule, I would end up delivering such a terrific product that I would have determined the success of all the operation just by myself. In the end, I would have such a good work to show in my portfolio that it would repay me for of all the troubles and eventually poverty and misery.
The necessity for a defined business plan
Unfortunately, I have to admit that I should have been more selective in accepting those projects and save myself for something more worthing my time.
There are no magic rules to help you in figuring out if you’re dealing with a promising startup or with a promised failure.
What I do, I ask questions, I investigate further the business of the person I’ve in front. There are factors that are crucial. Like how he gets his customers, how he would identify the target of his products or services, why he thinks that your contribution will improve his venture, since how long he’s running his company, which is the prospect from now to six months or one year, what does he think about his competitors and what’s his formula to effectively compete with them.
Those are just suggestions, you always need anyway to investigate, ‘cos you’ve to design appropriate, tailored solutions. We usually ask all these questions to better design the final product.
But the answers can be used also for getting an idea about the person who’s going to engage us in an adventure.
Evaluate and chose wisely.
Learning to say no
It’s very important to have boundaries, and precise purposes. I try to plan weeks in advance, keeping myself busy on personal projects into which I put big efforts and for which I’ve great motivation. This gives me a counterpart when I have to decide if I should pause my personal stuffs and accept a new project.
It’s frustrating to have worked for a while, being proud about the product you’ve realized (in my case usually a website), and waiting hopelessly for the contents, proper images, or just a step payment for proceeding further in coding or deploying.
We’re designers. We love to create. It’s a shame to spend precious time in the effort to provide our clients a first class solution for later discovering that they’ve been not motivated enough to actually use it.
Knowing when to refuse a project is vital. We can dedicate ourselves to other (eventually personal) projects, with higher gratification and prospects.