Whether you have a dream team or are a solopreneur, there will come a time when you’ll likely have to hire an expert’s help for things you can’t necessarily take care of in-house.
That’s where freelancers or consultants come in. You can obtain resources, tools or specialized counsel from these individuals by purchasing these services from experts without permanently adding them onto your team. Freelancers and consultants can be invaluable to your business, which is why it’s imperative that you as a business owner maintain a positive working relationship with these professionals.
Many times, these relationships go smoothly, eventually evolving into long-term agreements. Sometimes, however, things don’t always go so well, making freelancers or consultants consider the tough decision to fire you as their client because of some key violations.
Check out 6 things you may be doing to damage the relationship between you and your freelancer or consultant:
1. Your expectations don’t match your budget.
There are only a few places where “try before you buy” is acceptable and using a consultant’s services or “picking their brain” for free is not how you do business.
As a consultant, there’s nothing worse than receiving an inquiry from a prospective client, only to be to be told there’s not a sufficient budget in place. As a client, it’s important that your expectations match your budget. And while just about everything is negotiable, getting paid for sharing expertise is not.
2. You don’t have end goals.
Having an indecisive client or a customer who lacks a clear vision of what they want the end-game to be is highly frustrating for a consultant. Although freelancers and consultants are experts in a given field, none of them are experts at mind-reading.
While you don’t have to have the full vision planned out, as a client, it’s important to have at least a general idea of what you want when you seek the services of a freelancer. Goals are important because they allow both parties to focus on target to pursue, while also understanding and tracking the journey to getting there. Put simply: if you don’t know what you want, neither will we.
3. You’re constantly requesting for things out-of-scope.
Sometimes business can be unpredictable, but the agreement with your consultant should not be. Staying focused on what the agreed-upon deliverables will be is essential to building and maintaining a positive relationship with your consultant.
Constantly requesting for things beyond the scope of your agreement is a sure-fire way to frustrate your hired expert because scope-of-work agreements are necessary in order to nail down and handle the work-load. Incessantly transgressing the contract only makes you difficult.
4. You make everything urgent.
As a consultant, I’ve had experiences where clients treated nearly everything like a fire drill, emphasizing the utmost urgency on every idea, big or small.
As a client seeking the services of a consultant, it’s important to remember that you may not be your hired expert’s only customer. A consultant or a freelancer typically does not work exclusively for one client. With that in mind, it’s important to set realistic expectations around responsiveness, project priorities and turn-around times.
While it’s imperative that the person you hire understands how to prioritize their own work-load appropriately, making everything urgent creates an unhealthy dynamic between you and your consultant because it’s draining, inefficient and unrealistic to expect someone to be at your every beck-and-call.
The last thing in the world you want is to have your consultant dread receiving any kind of communication from you.
5. You don’t trust them to do their jobs.
It’s important to understand that hiring a freelance or consultant means that you are granting them autonomy to do their jobs for you effectively. Professional freelancers understand that feedback from clients and adjustments to the deliverables are to be expected and of course, the on-boarding process will take more guidance from you regarding how your business works. But, when it comes to executing the work, “hovering” or “baby-sitting” how they do the work is not a part of the agreement.
6. You don’t pay on time.
Of all of the things on the list, this issue may be the most pressing and may be the most frustrating for a consultant. We all know that deadlines will not always be met (on the end of both parties) because things happen in the producing process. However, one deadline that should never be continuously delayed or stretched is the rendering of payment.
Just as you would pay your car payment, mortgage or utility bills on time, it’s important to treat your consultant’s fees and invoices with the same courtesy – especially because they often have similar financial obligations as you do.
If your consultant is producing high quality work on time and the accompanying payment for said work does not, it’s simply not fair. I know many fellow consultants who constantly have to haggle clients for payment after delivering the work and are often met with the phrase, “the check is in the mail.” As a client, don’t let that be a lie.
If you don’t have to chase them for the deliverables, they shouldn’t have to chase you for the check.
Like any kind of relationship, yours with your hired expert will take nurturing to ensure that both parties are adding value to one another. Doing the above-mentioned things will ensure the opposite and may create an adversarial dynamic between you and your consultant. Don’t find yourself as a client suddenly “fired” by your freelancer, because sometimes, the customer isn’t always right.
Courtney Herring is the founder of The Champ Media Agency and a consulting entreproducer dedicated to helping time-starved entrepreneurs execute their content strategy to nurture inspired and engaged online communities by taking the headache out of editing, social media, and web content maintenance, allowing clients to be successful in other pursuits. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.