“No one client should take up more than 20% of your time”
I read somewhere early on in my journey that, ideally, no one client should take up more than 20% of your time and that’s always stuck in my mind.
But why shouldn’t you? Simple answer is, what if they suddenly decide they don’t need you anymore?
“Be ready for any situation to arise at some point”
It’s well documented that us self employed have far fewer employment rights and more financial risk than employees, but for many small business owners that’s exactly why they choose to work with us – we’re less hassle, no real commitment and we offer enormous flexibility to work with us as and when the need arises.
However, if your client doesn’t need you anymore; whether that be because they do not have the capital to pay you or have any work for you, then they can stop working with you more or less when they choose.
It’s therefore, our responsibility to ensure we’re not reliant on just one client, and here’s some ideas how:
“We’re the lucky ones!”
More than one client
Always try and make sure you have more than one client, there’s an endless list of reasons why you really shouldn’t rely on one person for your income and to me it makes sense.
The same could be said for those who are employed, on more than one occasion I’ve seen a LinkedIn post that reads: ‘I’ve been made redundant today, available immediately’, but it’s not as simple for the employed, so that’s where we’re lucky!
I decided to stop working with a client earlier in the year for various reasons, however she had quickly become a large proportion of my weekly hours. Always remembering what I’d read before I started my business, “no one client should take up more than 20% of your time”, I’d already put plans in place to move on, so it was an easy transition for me and stress free.
However, if I hadn’t I’d have been stuck, unhappy and possibly financially poor.
Don’t stop marketing
Even when you’re at capacity, there’s really no excuse to stop letting people know about you and your business. Keep marketing yourself in every way that works for you and then some.
Interact with people, whether that’s online (remember you can schedule to every social media platform) or at networking events (everyone needs a lunch break now and then).
Keep on everyone’s radar
As above, keep up your online or personal presence, however you have found clients previously, keep doing it, maybe to a slightly lesser degree if you’re flat out, but don’t stop. While you’re not ‘networking’ someone else will be.
Respond to enquiries
I’ve been trying to get a carpenter to alter two internal doors for around 2 months. You’d think I was asking someone to come out and build the ark, while blindfolded and with only their finger nails as tools for all the response I’ve had.
I’ve contacted 8 and only two responded (one was 450km away – my mistake, but his location was misleading on Facebook – hahaha). Others simply haven’t responded at all, while the second one to reply texted at the 11th hour to say he was ‘stuck on another job’. Clearly he thought I’d just arrived on aforementioned ark.
I would not recommend any of them and people won’t recommend you in the future if you don’t reply to enquiries. Build email time into your week, or outsource it to someone who can keep a log of these potential clients and respond on your behalf.
You may wish to work with them in the future!
There are an enormous amount of freelancer / self employed contracts available to download online, but if it’s likely you’re going to be working with just one client, then it might be worth consulting an expert to write a contract for you, to ensure it’s as legally binding as possible.
Personally, I’m not overly hung up on getting clients to ‘sign’ a contract per se, but I do ask for an email from the decision maker to acknowledge they’ve read it and are happy (tell me if I am wrong, I’d welcome knowing). My reasoning behind this is the esign process works by identifying people through their email address, and as I run my business to alleviate workload for my clients, I can’t be bothered with giving them extra work to do, and many aren’t terribly computer literate
Whether you choose email, esign or a written letter (remember those), here are a few things that would be worth including:
- Get everything established in writing, from the task specifics, your understanding of outcomes and the deadline
- Get confirmation from the decision maker that they agree to the terms of your contract
- Keep all written and electronic communication safe and secure (you never know when you might need to refer to this if there are any problems)
- Stick to your own terms; if you don’t why should your client?
As I said at the beginning, if your one client no longer has the need for you or the money to pay you, then they can end your contract very easily – be ready for any situation to arise at any point in your journey.
What have your experiences been? I’d love to hear them.