Ask Molly

Ask Molly, Selling

Ask Molly: How To Sell A Service Contract

By

How can I sell my client a service contract? Hi Molly, I just listened to your recent podcast and you touched on the “service contract”. I have a client who has asked me to become a part time employee—but I know that won’t work because it’s just not my thing. I think the suggestion was sincere—they need to reduce overall expenses but also want to retain me so that I don’t get too busy to get things done. To keep things “status quo” with this client, they would likely reduce my weekly on-site time to one or two days, forcing me to take on other projects that could impose on my schedule. But, if I could present a “maintenance” agreement, then it would just be a set number of hours at some reduced rate. This would still keep me retained and I wouldn’t lose focus. Should I bill at a lower rate or should I keep my rate the same and add a line item discount (preventing the client from forgetting my real rate)? If they need more hours than they pre-paid for, what should my rate be? Sincerely, Thinking Out Loud Hey Thinking, What I’m hearing in this scenario […]

0 900
Ask Molly, Managing

Ask Molly: How To Bill For Junior Time

By

How do I bill for junior developer time? Dear Molly, I bill clients hourly. I now have a junior developer. I’m struggling with how to bill that time to the client. With early, easy tasks, I could often pass that along in full, or nearly so, as some simple layout modifications would take me nearly as long. But with more complex tasks, I know I’m going to need to bill only a percentage of that time. How should I determine what to charge? All time at a lower rate or less time at the full rate? Review the work and try to estimate how long it would take me? Sincerely, Wondering What’s Fair   Dear Wondering, I appreciate your overall approach because I think it demonstrates a clear commitment to giving your client great service at a price that is fair. If you stick with this mindset you will make the right choices. Here are a few suggestions to consider as you discount your junior developer’s time. I suggest you estimate the task based on how long it would take you to complete the work and only bill the client for that amount. Be sure to track the actual time […]

0 859
Ask Molly, Improving

Ask Molly: Convincing Clients Of Your Off-Site Productivity

By

How can I convince my client to let me work remotely? Dear Molly, I recently transitioned from a full-time employee to a freelancer. Most of my clients don’t require me to work in the office and I love the freedom and flexibility. However, my biggest client is my former full-time employer and they do expect me to put in regular office hours, even though the work I do (I’m a copy editor and social media manager) does not require me to be in the office. Any suggestions? Sincerely, Sick and Tired of Commuting in Los Angeles Dear Sick and Tired, While I understand the drain of commuting, don’t underestimate the value of working on-site. You’ll get to know your client better, have better insights into their needs, and improve communication channels. I often encourage people to work on-site (not just go in for meetings) in order to build stronger relationships. That said, you know this client, so perhaps you already have a strong working relationship. I think what you need to do is to find out where the hesitation to let you work off-site is coming from. Is your client worried that by letting you subcontract and work from home, […]

0 821
Ask Molly, Managing

Ask Molly: How to Manage Millennials

By

How do I hire and manage millennials? Dear Molly, I’m a small business owner who has been in business for twenty years. A successful growth model for me has been to hire and train recent college graduates. However, in recent years I have had a real challenge hiring and managing junior employees. Specifically, I feel like this new generation isn’t willing to put the work in before they are asking for raises and promotions. I also feel like they are always challenging my decisions when I really just need them to “get to work.” Any ideas for hiring and managing millennials? Sincerely, Frustrated Dear Frustrated, You’re not alone with this question. More and more managers are finding that they need to adapt their style in order to adjust to the different expectations of a changing workforce. It’s helpful to first understand where these changes are coming from, and then to develop strategies to address them. For example, many millennials have grown up calling adults by their first names, are encouraged to be inquisitive, and place a high value on time and flexibility. This shapes the way they interact with their employers (you). While it may feel like they are challenging […]

0 1188
Ask Molly, Doing

Ask Molly: How To Talk To The Client When Things Go Wrong

By

How do I talk to my clients when things go wrong? Dear Molly, I’m an account manager and I’m really good at working with clients. But when things start to go wrong, I tend to freeze. I know I’m making things worse by avoiding the problem, but often times if I know things are going badly, it is almost impossible for me to confront the client. Recently, I’ve been so busy that I have missed deadlines with more than one client and while I try to make up for it on the weekends, I know a confrontation is coming. I’m working on getting help so I don’t get into this situation in the future but do you have suggestions on how to address the problem right now? Sincerely, Avoiding the problem in South Carolina Dear Avoiding, One of my business partners had a great line when it came to tough projects: “You can’t put out a fire if you run away from it.” Which was quickly shortened to: “Run towards the flames!” It’s coming. There’s an issue. You know it. It will only get bigger if you avoid it. You might think that if you work really hard you can […]

0 930
Ask Molly, Selling

Ask Molly: Getting Started in Consulting

By

How do I get started working as a consultant? Dear Molly, I am a 23-year-old college student with two years of tax preparation and photography experience. I’d like to find my first paying client. What advice would you give to a young person who is trying to become a consultant? Sincerely, Luis Hey Luis, I am thrilled to hear that you are a college student who is already thinking about building your portfolio. As a creative writer and database developer, I love hearing your combination of interests (tax prep and photography). I think my article “Getting Started in Subcontracting” will give you some ideas about initial sales and how to make contacts. Since you’re still in school, I have a few other suggestions to get you pointed in the right direction. Don’t be afraid of “grunt work” Your goal right now is to get experience. You want to meet people, do great work for them, and have something to put on your resume and someone to give you a positive referral. Nobody down the line is going to know if you were actually preparing the tax return or making photocopies of the return, but you will have a reference and […]

0 911
Ask Molly, Improving

Ask Molly: How Do I Convince My Friend To Become A Freelancer?

By

How can I convince my friend to quit her job and join my freelance team? Dear Molly, It’s taken me 15 years to go out on my own and I finally did it last year. Things are going well for me and I am absolutely slammed with work. I really want my friend who is also a designer to quit her job (that she hates!) and join my team. I keep telling her that my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. Any suggestion on how to help her make the jump? Sincerely, Looking to Expand in Wisconsin Dear Looking, First—congratulations and I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying your self-employment. My first thought was to defer this question because I’m not the best person to ask about risk taking. Over the years I’ve learned that I make decisions very differently than a lot of my friends, co-workers, and business partners. I have been referred to as a “tornado.” Once I have a picture of where I want to go, I start running toward it. There will probably be a few dead ends, I’ll need to retrace my steps, I’ll vary my speed—but the way I find my […]

0 1064
Ask Molly, Managing

Ask Molly: How To Schedule A Team

By

How do I schedule my team? Dear Molly, I’ve been a web developer for ten years and in the last three years my business has grown immensely. Suddenly, I find myself managing a designer and four other programmers. I’m the bottleneck and things keep slipping through the cracks. What tools and techniques do you use to get a handle on an ever-changing schedule? Sincerely, Overloaded in California Dear Overloaded, You’re not alone in switching between being able to juggle your clients and suddenly having to manage your workload and keep an eye on what your team is doing. As the business owner, it’s also your responsibility to make sure you’re setting realistic expectations for both your clients and your team. First, you need some kind of overview to help you get a snapshot of what’s happening. My answer to this (when I managed a team of 12 developers) was a project-planning tool that came to be known as the “Woobie” because I carried it around like a security blanket. It was a top-level view of projects, assignments, and roles that allowed me to review the workload and communicate with my team. Here’s a simplified version of my project-planning tool: Simply […]

0 902
Ask Molly, Selling

Ask Molly: Getting Started in Subcontracting

By

What’s the best way to get started in subcontracting? Dear Molly, I have programming skills and I’m just getting started as an independent consultant. I have one small client of my own and I love the work so much I just know I would rather do independent consulting over pursuing a full-time job. Do you have any advice to help me jumpstart my career as an independent developer? Sincerely, Hoping To Go Solo Dear Independent, Congratulations! I can tell you already have a taste of how gratifying it can be to work for yourself. Since I don’t know your particular skill set or industry, I’m going to give you a few pieces of advice that I throw out to people who are just getting started. If you’re new to the industry or new to working independently, I highly encourage you to focus your initial efforts on subcontracting. On our member site we have articles and videos about pursuing direct client sales, but since you mentioned you need some work right away and you’re new to independent consulting, I think subcontracting is a great route for you. Subcontracting rates are not as high as if you gain the client yourself, but […]

0 994
Ask Molly, Doing

Ask Molly: How Do I Prioritize My Work?

By

How do I focus my efforts and prioritize my work? Dear Molly, Suppose you’ve got a situation like this: Multiple projects on the go, all different sizes and at different stages, as well as a steady stream of daily requests from existing clients whose projects are in “maintenance mode.” How do you prioritize? What do you do next? I don’t think there’s an absolute answer—you have to take into account things like the state of your finances and your obligations to clients. I’m looking for sound principles for making this type of decision. Sincerely, Doug Gardner, Exoteric At our Find Your Moose conference last October, John Sindelar from Dayback talked eloquently about how he sets his top-level goals and then measures tasks as they come up against those priorities. It’s important to note that each business owner’s goals may vary at different times, but the idea is to ensure that your goals are clearly defined so that you can better align tasks underneath those goals. At the same conference, Susan Fennema from Beyond the Chaos talked about making delegating your number one priority. Anything you can delegate needs to be handled first, so that you know other people are working […]

0 1020

LOG IN

Lost your password?

SIGN UP

LOST PASSWORD