Today’s challenge is a deliciously emotionally messy one for us to get our teeth into and all about setting your business boundaries and policing them.
It’ll be perfect for my book too.
You know how when someone pushes you an inch and you don’t like it but you go with it ‘cos well… it’s only an inch. And then they do it again and you can’t complain ‘cos you didn’t last time and it’s well… still only an inch, though it adds up to two inches now.
And next thing you know you are seventeen inches away from where you wanted to be in this relationship and you explode like a volcano and everyone wonders what on earth got up your pipe? Yeah, that. That’s where this leads.
So work out your rack rate, whether or not you will discount it for any class of client or friend. Get into the habit of asking “what’s your brief and what’s your budget”, thanks to my client Sam D for that one. And never leave home without at least an exchange of emails in which you agree what you will be paid for your work, what you will be paid for your travel time (half work rate is often fair) and what is expected of you.
And when that goes wrong and you work out what you forgot to put in the email contract, put it in next time. Older and wiser. Change is incremental. Life reminds us what we forgot to think about, but it is always OK to ask for your needs to be met. A contract only works well if it works equally for both parties. Yin and yang, Mate.
And, if you are dealing with takers, ask for something – anything – in return so that they get used to your relationship being give and take, give and take, not all the giving on your side. Even if you are not asking for money (and why not?), then do ask for something – expenses, something of contra equivalent value they can give you in return, and/or free travel, and/or a proper credit where credit is due which is valuable not fluff, etc. If they don’t have money, what do they have (if anything) you would value in return? If nothing, then no deal. Soz. I don’t like contras, to be honest. Not unless they really have something you want. Messy, otherwise. And compromising, but not in a good way.
This can all be quite uncomfortable, especially if you are newly self-employed and your clean communication skills are not that good yet. Do not hallucinate how you think the person on the other end will feel. They won’t necessarily feel as you assume they will, so don’t sugar coat it and don’t take responsibility for their feelings.
And more of this sort of straight-talking advice given in the same vein.
In other news this week, our words of the week are Agency (mine) and Expansion (hers). Nicola is expanding into a new clutter-free home which is nourishing both personally and psychologically. She’s downloading Xero and asking her expert neighbour to help, and she’s wrangling with the Apple helpline to get her TV and laptop to play nicely together, so far that’s not happening.
Since announcing on Facebook last week that I’m writing a book, I’ve been bombarded with sponsored content attempting to sell me all manner of stuff a wannabe author might fall for including ninja (!) writing skills, editing, proofreading, marketing for authors, book covers, you name it they’ve tried to sell it to me but only on my iPad because I have Ad Blocker on my laptop thank goodness. If I were less confident in my own abilities, I recognise how easily this would undermine me and my ability, and encourage me to feel I needed to go shopping and learn lots of new stuff before I could contemplate publishing my book.
On the same topic, I am gratified by how helpful and supportive last week’s newsletter readers have been in sending me in lots of questions for me to answer in my book, ditto current clients sending them to me via FB. I am 33% through my Scrivener study on my Udemy course and I seem to have manifested a new chair which is great as it is more comfortable and I was anxious about spending more time at my desk, which I think is to be avoided at all costs generally speaking.
On 1st July I celebrated forty years of self-employment, which started originally on 1.7.77 and a conversation with my pal Vania on FB reminded me that all entrepreneurs are on a zero hours contract! Right now, thanks to the book idea and my current batch of clients and potential newbies, I love this business more than ever and am looking forward perhaps to a website makeover to coincide with the book’s publication and a slight jigging of my online offerings.
Nicola’s been to Write Club and is entering for a 3,000 word competition on the topic of A Journey, prize £1500. Good on her. And she’s caught up with one of my fave films of 2016 Hidden Figures about the ladies who worked for NASA way back. Wonderful. In one of those delicious coincidences, what’s impressed me this week included this film in which Elon Musk and talk of “the rocketry business”, specially the ability his team has developed for a rocket to come back and land on earth again without cluttering up space. Wow! I didn’t know they’d achieved that. As my FB friend, Mark, says Mr Musk is a visionary.
I also discovered that the US taxpayer had lent Musk’s business $20,000,000 and they’ve repaid it with interest and a bonus so that the US taxpayer made a profit on that. And throughout all of this he has continued to be the target of scathing and ruthless attacks, including from his own space heroes who were, in part, his inspiration. What a guy!
Nicola’s impressed by the hostesses of Stoupa who, at this time of year, receive an endless stream of house guests and relatives coming to stay which involves them in the expense and effort of entertaining, cleaning, laundry and running a taxi service to/from the airport. And also by the guy who made her app and particular his commitment to ongoing customer service.
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