Sometimes it’s really tough to be able to estimate exactly how long work with a client will take.
Especially in the early years of your practice, and in particular when a client contacts you asking you to do something you know is within your competency, but you’ve never done for a (paid) client before, it’s almost impossible to assign an accurate amount of time to the project in front of you. Without the accurate amount of time, you will probably quote a way-too-low price for the work.
I call it “scope creep” – and thus (just in time for Halloween!) here is your tip to make sure you get paid, even when the scope of your work “creeps” past your estimate.
Not a week goes by when a new advocate tells me he or she plans to establish their new advocacy practice as a non-profit organization.
“Why do you think you want to establish your practice as a non-profit?” I ask.
“Because then I won’t have to ask patients for money,” is the nonsensical response.
“Then where will your money come from?” I continue. “How will you sustain your business?”
“That’s why I called (or wrote to) you!”
Say you need to find a lawyer to help you draw up your contracts for your new advocacy practice. Which experience would you choose?
Experience #1: You do a search and you arrive at Attorney Option #1’s website. You see friendly, professional faces. You see testimonials from happy clients. You see descriptions of services, one of which is “Legal Support for Small Businesses”… Wow! Perfect! But you search and search and don’t see a phone number. In fact, the links on the website don’t indicate where you can go to find contact information at all. You finally arrive at a page with a contact form you can fill out.
Experience #2: Your search also comes up with Attorney Option #2’s website. It’s not pretty. In fact it even looks a little dated. You do see that this attorney also supports small businesses. And – large and clear on that homepage – you see this attorney’s phone number. There is also a link to “Contact Us” right at the top of the page which takes you to a map to her office and a contact form.
So which one, to you, is the better experience?
You have a website. You are listed in multiple directories. Your Facebook page and Twitter feeds stay active. You spoke to the Rotary Club and your local Chamber of Commerce. You send an email newsletter once a month to your list of subscribers. And you blog your little fingers off every other week.
A good estimate of your marketing time spent might be 20 hours a month. A good estimate of your marketing costs might be an average of $200 a month.
It’s worth every penny and every minute because you stay busy with new and existing clients…. right?
Maybe not! How do you know?
As the punchline goes….
Practice, practice, practice!
It should not surprise you when I tell you that convincing a potential client to sign a contract to work with you requires the same thing: practice, practice, practice.
I hear from so many new, wannabe advocates that they just can’t get a client to sign a contract, or they just hate asking for money and oh – yes! I do understand that! Making those requests can be quite uncomfortable when doing so hasn’t been something you’ve ever had to do before. That’s for sure.
But there is a way you can get past that hurdle, become more comfortable with it, and move on to grow your successful advocacy or care management business.
Practice! OK, admittedly, easier said than done.
But, I’m here to make it easier for you with a 4-word piece of advice to do that.