Published September 23, 2020
When you’re taking on a new client, it’s important to follow certain steps to make sure that the relationship will be a healthy one. Here are four steps we think all small businesses and freelancers should take with new clients, from the start of the relationship to the end.
1. Discuss Their Exact Needs
As a freelancer or small business, it’s tempting to say “Yes” to every opportunity that comes your way. But it can also be your downfall. When you’re talking to a potential new client, it’s important to find out exactly what the new job entails. If it’s something that’s too large in scope, or a bit out of the area you’re able to operate in, don’t be afraid to turn it down! Without discussing a client’s exact needs, you run the risk of spreading yourself too thin or taking on a project you’re not ready for. When that happens, nobody’s happy.
2. Agree to Specific Terms
Once you decide on exactly what the new client needs, it’s time to sit down and work on the exact terms of the project. It’s important to make sure that both you and the new client are on the same page when it comes to expectations, and you don’t want a simple miscommunication to sour a possible long-term relationship.
Each project and each client is unique, so don’t assume anything. There are lots of details to consider. How long will it take? How long does the client expect it to take? Is it a one-time deal, or a month-by-month agreement? These are just a few of the questions you should ask. But the most important term you need to agree to is payment.
Speaking of which…
3. Get Paid Up Front
It can be frustrating waiting for a client to pay your invoices. When you have a long-standing relationship with a client, you can develop a general sense of their payment habits. But with new clients, you don’t have any evidence of whether or not they’ll pay you on time. To ensure you get your money, request a deposit in the terms you agree to with new clients.
A new client doesn’t necessarily have to pay your entire invoice before any work is completed, but a deposit of around 50% of the project’s final price is standard. This will give you peace of mind as you’ll already have a bit of money in the bank. If a client agrees to this deposit, you know they’re serious about doing business together. Plus, it will make them more invested in the project’s completion, since they’ll already have a bit of skin in the game.
4. Follow Up (Once You’re Done)
Once the terms are agreed to, the work is done, and the invoice is paid, it’s time to follow up with your new client. Put your networking skills to work and maintain that new relationship. You’ll be surprised how often a one-off project turns into recurring work for small businesses and freelancers!
Start with a simple follow-up email. Something along the lines of “I enjoyed working with you on this project, and would love to work together soon in the future!” within a week of project completion is typical. But don’t be afraid to go further. Sending the client an email every month or two asking if they need more work done is a great way to remain in the front of their mind whenever a new project does inevitably arise. Stay persistent!
When it’s time to invoice your new clients and get paid, use one of Invoice Home’s 100 templates to send an invoice, and attach a payment link to get paid faster!