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How to Solve the Most Frequent Freelance Client Dilemmas

Here at Access Credit Management we fully understand the challenges faced by small businesses, sole traders and freelancers.  Freelancing and remote working is on the increase as digital technology sets us free from our desks and allows us to work from home, shared workspaces, overseas, en route (or even in our pyjamas if we want to!).  Working as a remote freelancer gives you the opportunity to work when and where you please, an attractive option for so many people nowadays, but it brings with it some challenges that have to be overcome. 

Scope Creep – this is defined as a continuous and gratuitous expansion of the original project which can condemn it to failure through lack of focus and runaway costs.  This usually happens when a client doesn’t have a firm idea of what it is they want and they keep changing their mind, creating extra work which may not have been taken into account when the project started.  If the payment is to be a fixed price (rather than hourly rates), then it could easily turn into a nightmare job.  The best way to avoid this is by having a “no changes” clause written into the contract at the beginning.  The contract stage of any job is your chance to agree with the client exactly what they expect from you – this way you should keep the job within budget.

One of our clients recently experienced this type of scope creep on a contract and found himself at the end of his tether.  Exhausted by the constant demands of the client for changes, the job went on far longer than expected, entailed twice as much work as originally calculated and the freelancer ended up working on this project for much less than the minimum hourly wage!  Any small business should try to avoid taking on “chaotic” clients.  When working remotely, it’s often the case that you never actually meet or speak to your clients – everything is done digitally.  This means that there is plenty of room for misunderstanding between you and the client.  What the client expects from you may be something very different to what you expect to deliver.  If possible, try to schedule at least one Skype call with the client before agreeing to a contract – this will give each party an opportunity to set out what they expect and will reduce the risk of misunderstandings.  

Client Refuses to Pay – most freelancers will experience this at some point in their working life.  Chasing payments from clients who are late with the payment adds to your workload, meaning that you’re wasting valuable time which could be spent earning.  Before starting a job, make sure that the client has a clear understanding of your pricing and draw up a set of Terms and Conditions for the client to sign before any work is begun.  If you’re unsure of a new client, it’s a good idea to divide the work into chunks so that the client can make milestone payments on delivery of each “chunk” of work.  Maintain a policy of not starting on any new work until the last chunk has been paid for – a regular client will soon get the hang of this and ensure that payments are made promptly.  If a client is refusing to pay for work, then it’s time to bring in the professionals and let a no-win, no-fee debt collection agency recover the payment for you.