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One of the most exciting times in life is that moment when you get a brilliant idea. But even more so, when you start executing it. It’s a thrill that most people never forget, but it comes with its own set of challenges.
One of the biggest problems is you almost always forget that you’re no longer an employee but an employer. A lot of times you catch yourself getting too involved, taking things too personally, forgetting to check with your lawyer… the list is endless. And these things can easily make or break your business. So we came up with a list, albeit a short one, that every startup should follow to get off on the right foot in business management. Here goes…
Don’t forget to sign
Business is not a child’s playground. Everything has to be official. Always sign a contract before you embark on any project. Even with close friends and family, always insists on written and signed contracts.
As a new company, most of your new projects will come from referrals from friends, and you might feel like requesting for a signatory might affect the relationship.Or you probably have got comfortable with a client after one or two projects have been executed, and feel like a legal document is no longer necessary. Well I’ve seen things go wrong time and again. And the relationships you are trying to manage and maintain can turn sour after a misunderstanding from one of the parties.
A contract goes beyond signatures, it’s a bond, it’s your insurance policy. It confirms that the client is committed to the project, and it clarifies payment terms and schedules. It’ll also outline the scope so that it is clear what’s included in the project and what’s not. It protects both you and your client, and it will help you avoid clients who might take advantage of your status as an inexperienced business owner.
Don’t short-change your business with high Discounts
We’ve all been there before. There’s an immediate need for cash flow, which turns to desperation to acquire new clients. Clients with whom you can’t wait to do amazing work for and so even before for a discount is requested, you start chipping away at prices at the cost of your budget all in the effort to make sure you lock down the deal
You’re probably trying to be nice and nimble, but remember it’s your business! You might just be going at a loss. Moreover, starting out the business relationship by frantically slashing your price is suicidal. You’re indirectly saying “My work is not worth the price I set”. You’re losing credibility with the client from the very beginning. You can also come off as one who is in desperate need of a client.
Don’t let emotions get in the way
It’s your business right? One of your personal possessions. So it’s most likely there might be some form of emotional attachment. We understand, but your clients aren’t going to get involved personally in your dealings. They just want their job done and ready. So you need to be professional!
Always maintain your focus. In business, your eyes should solely be on achieving your set goal, don’t bring in unnecessary drama. Anything that isn’t helping you achieve your set goal should be set aside.
It’s far too easy for new agency owners to want to vent these feelings in an email or during a call when business agreement or deals go wrong. However, this is a business where your reputation matters. Burning bridges won’t help you lay a strong foundation for future growth.
Don’t set unrealistic timelines
When trying to sell a client on a project, it’s easy to want to impress your client with your delivery time : “Sure, we can do that website redesign in three weeks. No problem at all.”. “We can get you a million likes on Facebook in one week” (because Zuckerberg is your father).
You know very well that unless you and your team skips eating, sleeping, and doing anything else in that time frame, it’s still unlikely you meet the deadline. But the client wants it in three weeks. So you switch on your Superman mode; you will do whatever it takes to deliver. You’re in the client service business, right? Wrong.
This attitude will only result in you increasing the pressure on yourself and team members, delivering poor quality of work, or missing deadlines. Avoid these problems by telling clients up front the minimum amount of time required to execute and complete projects. Stick to these timelines. If you deliver before time, then you’ll have an even happier client. If you can’t meet the deadline with your current workload, maybe it’s time to hire more people, work with a freelancer, or just say “no” to more client work. Don’t overwhelm yourself and your team by taking on too much and over promising on the time it takes to create quality, result oriented work.
Don’t always say “yes”
You’re just starting so you want to cover as much grounds as possible. You want to get your agency’s name out there quickly, and that means it can be difficult to say to a prospect, “I don’t do that,” or “That’s not my area of expertise.”. So you just say “yes” instead and hope that you can find a freelancer who can do the work within the budget you proposed.
While outsourcing work is a normal practice, you need to be able to vouch for the freelancer’s quality of work at the end of the day. It is ultimately your responsibility. That’s a risky way to begin any new relationship and make a name for your agency.
Don’t do it alone
New business owners tend to be self-reliant individuals, but knowing your limits and learning to delegate tasks are important skills you would need to learn to succeed. Try to focus on the things you’re good at and you enjoy doing, and delegate to others who can handle tasks that requires specialized knowledge you don’t have. Just hire them and pay them well!
Learn to trust people. Hiring is one thing, trusting the abilities of those you hired is another. People under you won’t grow until you give them tasks to do, they will get better as they progress.
In summary, follow a great legal procedure to avoid issues, price yourself right, don’t let all your personal hormones get in the way of business, say no when you can (creates a sense of exclusivity) and work with an awesome team!
We sincerely would love to see you grow from a startup to a star agency, that is part of the reasons we started on this project. So if you need any more advise or you think we didn’t cover something, be sure to let us know in the comment box below.
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