If you’re following up on my blog posts, you would have probably noticed that it’s been over a month since my last post – the reason is I’ve been busy … busy learning on the job! I wanted to share my recent lessons with you my trusted reader
Lesson #1 – Not all that glitters is gold
A lesson that dates back to the 12th century certainly still applies today and ironically we still fall for it! Gold takes on many shapes and forms – even non monetary ones, like fame.
“If I take on this client, I will be known as the consultant who handled this and that … it would set me in a league of my own … I will go down in history” that’s what I told myself! I was blinded by temptation, by the glittering gold.
Here are some of the questions I should have asked:
- Do you believe in the project? To answer this question, I recommend you remove all personal rewards (that can be directly or indirectly exchanged at the bank), and think about it. So rephrasing the question sounds something like this: “Had you been doing this project for free, would you still go for it?”
- Are you happy working on the project? Are you going to be happy as this project progresses?
- What are you giving up? personal time? other businesses? family? friends? and is it worth it?
lesson #2 – setting expectations is easy / managing expectations is a different ball game
As a consultant, I make to set clear expectations and align with the client on the deliverables – that is the easy part, trust me! Once the engagement starts, this is when the client starts introducing new requests to the pre-agreed project scope. So how do you manage the deliverables in a timely manner provided the resources limitation presented by scope expansion? I promise you, this is not an oddity, this is more of the norm when it comes to doing business, especially, in the MENA region.
When quoting your client for services to be rendered, I recommend you leave a small buffer to be used in such situations. If you’re concerned about the ethical implications associated to such behavior, you need not – the solution is quite simple: in case you were one of the lucky few that managed to find a client that sticks to the deliverables laid out in the proposal, then you can use this money to add a little something extra, beyond the project scope!
LESSON #3 – DON’T ASSUME THE CLIENT UNDERSTANDS
We might both be speaking in English, Arabic, or even Chamicuro but don’t assume we’re speaking the same language. Don’t mistake the nodding as an affirmation of comprehension – it actually masks ignorance that is concealed with the “I KNOW” mask.
In many situations, I have come across clients that request something quite specific from me, for example a marketing strategy, or a social media strategy, or even a web 2.0 site with integrated social media platforms … you’d think they know what they’re talking about – well, that is another assumption that will get your in trouble.
When presenting your client with a proposal, make sure to explain every intricate detail and the only assumption you are allowed to make is that “THE CLIENT KNOWS NOTHING” …
When a client asks you for something specific, make sure they understand what they are asking for, and as a good consultant, you should actually step back and see if the client really needs what they’re asking for, maybe you can recommend a better solution … always remember, the client shouldn’t be laying out the solutions, they should be stating the problem, it’s your job to do the former.
LESSON #4 – MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN PERFECT ALIGNMENT WITH YOUR PARTNER
I was fortunate enough to partner up with a great entrepreneur, Moataz Kotb. Obviously, that is not the issue! However, he is more tolerant that I am when it comes to dealing with financials. Recently, I noticed that clients pick up on that element and try to play on Moataz’s kindheartedness behind my back.
Make sure your always aligned with your partner on everything. Make sure you tell each other everything, so no one would be able to blindside you. Your position should be solid and unified. No decisions should be taken independently without consulting your partner first.
One more thing, avoid clients that try to do that … it is a clear reflection of their standards!
Lesson #5 – A consultant is only as good as the client
This probably one of the first lessons I learned as an consultant. You are sometimes tempted to take on a project that seem quite easy and the client is usually completely oblivious of what they are looking for … this is a disaster waiting to happen, trust me.
The more the client knows the smoother your engagement will be. Remember the client is a reflection of your work, he’s the canvas you’re painting your master piece on. If the canvas is torn or worn out, regardless of your skills, your final work will fall short of your expectations and create devastation.
You have to learn how to say NO to some projects – remember your Personal Brand value statement – what you stand for, your principles, your guidelines, your personal commandments.
Have you experienced any of the lessons above in your work experience? Do you have valuable lessons to share that we can add to this list? Think About It!