Scope Creep Is Bad For Business – Why You May Need To Fire Your Client

Isn’t it strange that the word “creep” features in scope creep? If you’re not too sure what this term means, it’s working out of the parameters of your agreement with your client. Something that is asked of you over-and-above your ordinary work. May not sound too hectic. The only problem is that this new requirement often ends up being free.

Compare this to a builder commissioned to fix a border wall. Before he knows it, he’s fixing the dog house, bathroom sink, and kitchen table with no extra remuneration. Sure, it may not seem like much, but if it’s “such a little thing”, why didn’t the homeowner fix it themselves? Makes ya think, doesn’t it?

You Have A Certain Amount Of Hours Every Day

Think of scope creep as the naughty little fellow that creeps in and steals time away from your friends and family. It’s the same little creep that prevents you from reaching certain personal goals. You find yourself running out of time, ALL THE TIME. In fact, if you had to tally up the hours you spend on scope creep work, you may finally afford that holiday or ballet classes for the kids.

Learn to say no.

How Does It Even Creep In?

We all go through moments in our career where we’re not too sure about our rates. Where we feel sorry for our clients, or embarrassed to remind them that they actually need to pay for these extra items. But most of all, it’s when we’re not sure what the parameters of our projects are. Suddenly, as a writer, you become a web designer who needs to learn code for one of your client’s sites because the words need to look pretty. Or as a designer, you need to add copy to your design as well. Or a few high-quality images of their products.

Decide on the parameters of your work.

Are Clients Evil When They Are Guilty Of Scope Creep?

No, not everyone knows just how much work goes into your work. Not everyone knows that while they’re still sleeping, you’ve already done two hours’ worth of research. It’s important to make your billing more comprehensive to let your client know exactly what they’re paying.

They might feel that the fee covers a host of other services, however, it’s important that your billing information is clear and concise. Ensure that you include everything. Rather give your client too much information than risk scope creep.

Define your work on your invoice. (Without giving away your secret methods, of course!).

Send The Amended Invoice Before Taking On The Additional Work

This allows the customer to choose whether they want to take on the additional work themselves or pay you to do it. Furthermore, you’ll feel better for being transparent. If you’re afraid you might lose the client, bear in mind that the extra, non-paying work that you’re doing for this client is keeping you away from your dream client.

Be transparent from the start.

When It’s Time To Move On

You’re upfront about the work and the time and resources required to do it, and your customer says that they will find someone else to take on the project. Someone cheaper and easier to deal with. At this point, you’ve done all you can for this client and it might be time to say goodbye.

Remain professional when you say goodbye.

Yes, You Can Bless Your Clients With A Freebie

I have a few clients who continuously provide me with work and constantly get me in contact with new clients. From time to time, I decide to throw in some copy for free. This is a way for me to say thank you for the business and the referrals. You will need to use your discretion.

Bless your loyal customers once in a while.

vacation, business

Sharpen Your Ax – Your Business Will Thank You For It Later

It’s 6 AM and your mind is already filled with the tasks for the day. You work through business strategies and ideas and even have a mental discussion with an unruly staff member. You munch your breakfast in silence as you think through marketing strategies and before you know it, you’re on your way to work.

This may be your own business, but face it, you’ve never worked harder in your life! There is simply no way in the foreseeable future you can even dream of going on vacation. Is there?

Are You Achieving Your Self-Employment Goals?

You left your steady 9-to-5 to pursue your own thing. You want that extra time to spend with your family and have more room to go away on holidays or mini breaks. The only problem is, you’re working longer hours now than ever before and the thought of leaving your business for even a few short hours gives you the heebie-jeebies. This could be because you went in without a clear goal in mind, and the only goal was to “make it work”. Here are a few examples of goals that should be mapped out in your office, within easy reach.

  • Have x amount of clients at x rate.
  • Break even by this date.
  • Spend 8 hours or less, Monday to Friday. Saturdays and Sundays are for fun excursions and exploring.
  • Take a week off work every x months.
  • Make x per day within the next x months.

See how this works? If you’re just going in blindly every day, you’re not creating the space you need to do all the things you want to do. Once you have the main goal, you can break them down into small chunks. For instance, if you need to make x amount of money and you only want to work a certain amount of hours, you will understand your rates a little better. This will allow you to attract the right kind of client at the right rate.

Do You Trust Your Staff?

For many business owners, the thought of leaving their staff alone with the clients has them on speed dial to a cardiac specialist in minutes. I’m talking to the business owners who physically don’t have to be there for operations to continue. If this is you, you either don’t have the right staff OR you’re not the right owner. Yes, it’s as simple as that. There is nothing worse for a staff member who knows what they’re doing to have an owner lurk over their shoulders every 5 minutes. The other end of the spectrum is not providing sufficient training for your staff to allow them to keep the boat afloat when you’re not there. It just creates stress on both ends.

  • Step back and learn to trust your staff.
  • Put measures in place to ensure your processes have no loopholes.
  • If you’re worried about theft, cameras are great. Also, streamlined processes work well here as well. It’s not 100% foolproof, but it’s better than sitting there policing your staff all day.
  • Train your staff properly. Not just the technical side of things but also how to give good customer service, how to handle conflict, and proper etiquette for answering the phone or emails. This really goes a long way.

You Run a One-Person Show

Yep, like me, you don’t get paid when you don’t work. This is where savings really go a long way. Also, it’s important to let your clients know that you won’t be around for a period of time and that any urgent projects need to be taken care of before a certain date.

  • Calculate how much earnings you may miss out during that period and set it aside. This means your holiday costs you double, but heck, it’s worth it.
  • Work in some extra hours to make up for those lost days.
  • If you have urgent projects that need attention and you’re taking your work with you, try not to spend more than an hour a day. Also, if your family enjoys sleeping in during vacations, you can wake up an hour before everyone and get some work done. Make sure the venue has coverage, though! If not, rather send the work to a colleague in the industry. Yes, you may lose the client but you will build a good relationship with that colleague.

What worked well for me was that I did the calculation and managed to work in quite a few hours extra before I went on holiday. An extra hour a day goes a long way.

Learn To Let Go

It’s tough and face it, as a business owner you suffer severe FOMO, but don’t let it get you down. Take a deep breath, make those plans and work for it. Going away will give you a clear indication of whether your business is heading in the right direction. If you cannot afford to steal away for a few days, you’re heading down a slippery slope of overworking. Before you know it, you’ll long for that 9-to-5er again.

So learn to let go and learn to love and enjoy your business.

  • Set those goals
  • Work those hours
  • Make those plans

Let your business work for you!