First up, let’s define what we mean when we say “mindset”. Your mindset is your way of thinking – your attitudes and beliefs.
And there are multiple ways that having the wrong mindset can derail your projects.
Expert vs order taker
How do you behave in your dealings with clients? Are you the expert that clients listen to, or are you an order taker who does as they’re told?
If you lean more towards being an order taker, it’s time to embrace the value you bring to a project. Clients hire you for your expertise, and part of that is advising them on the best path to take.
If they’ve got the wrong idea about something, or you think their suggested approach won’t work then speak up! Plenty of problems can be avoided by making sure a project is on the right track from the start.
Confidence and speaking up
And on that note, it’s important that you feel confident in your dealings with prospects and clients. I meet a lot of freelancers who think their clients have all the power, when, in fact, clients will often welcome it if you take the lead on a project or brief.
Your client should be your equal, not your boss. You can make that happen by having confidence in your own abilities and speaking up when necessary.
Often projects go off the rails because a freelancer didn’t have the confidence to ask the right questions, to get clarity on the brief, or to speak up when the project started to go off track.
Don’t be that freelancer! Ask the questions you need to ask and get the clarity you need before you start work.
Knowing when to say “no”
In every area of life there are going to be people who make things tricky. And of course, clients are no different. Except the great thing about tricky clients is this – you don’t have to work with them!
Learning how to say “no” is a real skill, and it’s one you need to acquire. Most people will show you pretty early on if they’re going to be difficult to work with. Listen to them and turn them down.
It feels easier said than done, especially if your bank account is looking a little empty. But the reality is that if you say “no” to the clients that’ll make you’re life a misery, that leaves you plenty of time to seek out those better clients.
Put boundaries in place
One easy way to weed out the difficult clients is to have clear boundaries in place. People who don’t respond well to reasonable boundaries don’t generally make good clients.
So what kind of boundaries are we talking about here? The easiest way to figure this out is to write yourself a list of “non-negotiables”.
When are you available? What boxes need to be ticked before you’ll start work on a project?
Sensible boundaries might include:
- I check and reply to emails once a day.
- Clients can’t reach me after 5pm.
- I only start work on a project when the deposit has been paid and the contract signed.
It can feel hard to set those boundaries, but once you’ve done it you’ll wonder why you waited so long. Freelancing is a much more pleasurable experience when you stand up for yourself, only work with good people, and value yourself as the expert you are.
Time for you to write that list of non-negotiables! You’ll come across as much more of a pro, and you’re much less likely to end up working with “problem clients”.