One thing that school did not prepare me for was a difficult client. It never occurred to me on “what if they don’t agree with you?” concept since client work in school was always fictional so in the end they were very easy to work with. One of my first few clients was two young females that wanted to start their own company in the beauty industry. Being a female myself that loves beauty products I instantly jumped onboard. And was a perfect opportunity for me, since I was able to relate to the company.
As I anxiously waited for the launch of the product – I started to realize that things weren’t going as smoothly as planned. Although we had a contract on the exact work I was to do with a marketing plan I had designed for them, they had a different agenda. Since I understood that they were a young, dynamic duo with a very tight budget I had decided that I would cut them some slack in the costs since I had related to their product so much.
For a quarter of what any sane marketer would charge them I had done more than triple the work. Although with clients I do not mind going far and beyond for them to make them happy and doing extra work, it does become a problem when they start to take advantage. Unfortunately that is exactly what the company began doing to me.
When I had noticed and slowly started to go back to my normal work routine for them on what we had outlined in our contract they were not pleased. So how did I handle them?
I had decided to set up a meeting to talk to them on the work I had done. I was one stop away from picking up their dry cleaning and getting their coffee. I was hoping that they would understand that I had done them favors prior to and that unless they agree to pay me accordingly for my service that I would continue my current work for them according to the marketing plan we agreed upon. In the end the clients did not understand the quality of work I had provided them was above and beyond the scope of requirements and the work relationship ended in a bitter note.
There is a list of things I would have done differently. I would have loved if the relationship ended in a happier note and also that they appreciated the quality of work I had provided them instead of taking advantage.
However, it had taught me a valuable lesson on how to deal with work relationship that no lesson in school has ever taught me. I learned how to take pride in my work and not to be bullied into doing way more than expected while still building a strong relationship with a client. It is important to speak honestly with them if you believe your talent isn’t being showcased properly but at the same time show them that you are worth the investment. Real life situations are always the best lessons learned in entrepreneurship.