Mar 16 / Matt Saunders

Pls Call Me

"Absolute emergency"
How did you feel when you read that headline?

If it gave you a pang of anxiety, you're not alone.

Most of the self-employed folk I know sense that something in their business could go wrong at any moment.

They dread the thought that they'll drop the ball and a client will get upset with them.

Those three little words, pls call me, don't exactly scream "good news", do they?

The power dynamic

Woman sitting at laptop with eyes closed
The problem is that too often we put our clients on a pedestal.

We see them as the boss.

We defer to them for direction and at the end of the day, we're thankful for the money they give us in exchange for our servitude.

Unfortunately, many freelancers are trapped in this power dynamic. It is a mindset born of being an employee, from having a boss.

But as a business owner, it is mission-critical that you see yourself as the boss, as soon as possible.

"Absolute emergency, please call"

Woman in red hoody yelling
Earlier in my web development days, I set client expectations from day one. I rarely gave out my number, I did not accept same-day meetings and all website changes went through a tried and tested process.

But then one of my clients took on a new marketing manager.

This person had come from a corporate background, where many cogs made up the machine. They were used to having "IT resource" available at the drop of a hat.

One afternoon I got a message saying "ABSOLUTE EMERGENCY, PLEASE CALL".

This person hadn't been involved in the onboarding process, so they were not aware of the way I operated my business.

I responded to find out what was going on and they told me that the issue had resolved itself (which is usually the case in an "emergency"), but I felt it prudent to re-enrol this person into my processes, so I arranged a video call.

On this call I explained how to get support, how to request changes, and how they can get the best out of us working together.

It would have been easy to have gotten swept up in this person's urgency. But in the end they thanked me for helping steady the ship.

You see - whether clients know it or not - most of the time they're looking for a safe pair of hands. They need a sense that you know what you're doing. Without it, they will be overly-directive, freak out and try to control the situation. I suspect this person had not felt supported in their previous role which led to their (non) emergency-outburst.

Be the boss

Woman chilling drinking a glass of wine
So if you're getting bossed around by your clients, I have some questions for you:

Are you truly leading your clients? Do you communicate and follow clear processes? Are you showing up as the boss of your own business?

You must be able to answer these with a "hell yes!" or risk being treated as an external employee.

And that's not why you went into business, is it?
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