Tuesday 19 September 2017

Make Your Own Lane: Live Feedback on Choosing Projects and Clients

This is one of the most frequently asked questions from people who are new to online income and are in the beginning stages of bidding.

How do we find a genuine client who will appreciate good work for long term business relationship?

Assess buying behavior

First of all you need to understand why the buyers are outsourcing a particular project instead of doing it themselves or using an in-house team.

1] Is it lack of knowledge, expertise and experience?
2] Is if lack of time?

The one who has knowledge will know what it takes to execute the assignment and will call out his budget accordingly, based on skill, market and industry standards.

He is probably unable to do it himself as he is pre-occupied with more critical activities of the same or another project. He is probably unable to focus due to his travel plans or other priorities.

As he is aware about the amount of time required to complete a project of this nature, he will usually allocate budget to suit seller’s expectations.

How will you know he has knowledge about what he is asking you to do?

1] He will give you the required inputs because he is sure you will need that to complete the project

2] He will be a great facilitator with research material, his rough drafts, his notes before he call out his expectations from you.

Assess language/ responses

I have had buyers who wanted to and fro communication while the project is being executed. That is because they have had past experiences where they lost time and money due to poor execution and they want no such thing to happen again.

I need to think holistically. I ask all my questions before I accept an assignment. I do extensive research, prepare my notes and then begin working on client’s project.

Ongoing communication, therefore, is a huge distraction for me and I do not allow that. I submit the final output with a rationale document. If my clients want even a single revision, they have to beat that rationale first. I do not allow any revision based on whims, fancies and afterthoughts.

When you put across your points one by one, why you are unable to comply with any of buyer’s request, their questions/ language after that is a huge hint regarding the following:

1] How the client will accept your submission?

2] Trust level developed between the two of you

Assess need

You can spot a small minded client based on how he describes his project and the budget he indicates.

Even if I give benefit of doubt to the buyers that they are unaware about prevailing rates and hence allocated budget incorrectly, the project description is such a big give away about what is going on in their mind

Here are two samples you need to immediately discard and choose not to respond as you are getting into a very difficult situation regardless of budget.

Sample One:

1] Need professional and customized presentation.
2] Need 5 such power point design based on company branding for this and future requirements:
Headings (Verdana)
Text (San Serif)
3] Every presentation should be ready within 24 hours.
4] Only experienced, talented and professional designer with good business acumen and market intelligence will be considered
5] I will need business graphics, charts, Smart Art, table and relevant images
6] See attached sample
7] Budget $ 25

Now note my comments/ interpretations of the numbered points

1] Standard template is not acceptable

2] This is a cheap bait - Hinting at ongoing work for seller to consider future business and volume discounted rates for services. 

5 designs for each presentation means he wants variety to choose from and does not have definite sense of color schemes, industry presentation standards and aesthetics. His knowledge of company branding is limited to fonts only. 

3] I prefer not to comment on this. It takes more than 48 hours sometimes to research and another 48 hours even to think of a story board considering the mental caliber of target audience.

4] Pick on seller's brain for free

5] The need is not defined but scattered which is another huge hint that he is not sure what he wants

6] If the sample belongs to his company - that is probably to set standards. If the sample belongs to another company - It is unethical and the buyer has creative crisis even to describe his requirements

7] Do not waste your time even reading the project brief. It is not worth it.

Sample Two:

1] Business plan around 70 to 80 pages on XXXX with the following:

2] Projections required:


3] Provide all realistic costs for license, incorporation etc

4] Budget: $50 / $500

Here the budget does not matter.

1] Check what inputs you have received - absolutely nothing. You will not get anything either, even if you ask.

2] Look what his primary need is - Projections. He is clue less about the financial part and due to lack of research, he has no idea when the business will break - even; first year, second or after 5 years?

He wants three different financial plans because he does not know his target audience either - what they are likely to ask?

3] 70 to 80 pages - When an entrepreneur has not done even basic research about a business idea or the market, he tends to ask for more pages in a business plan. The expectation is - the plan will do the selling. 

Will you choose to do the Herculean task to educate this entrepreneur or just discard the project?

How to recognize an entrepreneur who knows his business?

An entrepreneur who has been working on a particular idea for a long time, even if he is an amateur in the startup ecosystem, he will have loads of information, scribbled notes, what he tried to get done from his team to share with you.

As long as he is trying to assist you to the best of his ability so that you can do good work for him, you can let him know based on your experience what works and what doesn't so that he can take an informed decision.

Write to if you have a project that you are not sure of - we will share our perspectives, key pointers and even clarification questions you can ask your client to get you started.

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