Just cut a call with a client, and are a bit troubled because they didn’t tell you something crucial about the project? ‘This is a standard for our brand!’ ‘We thought you knew’ the client says. But you weren’t aware of this. ‘You didn’t ask us, so we didn’t tell you’ they say.
The root cause of all misunderstanding in freelancing- Assumptions!
When working with clients, assumptions are one of the biggest reasons for conflict which results in a lot of problems with the deliverable. As freelancers, once we take on a project there are a lot of areas where assumptions are made by either party.
From the Client/ Business side various assumptions are made which determine the hiring demands and working style of a freelancer. If the client assumes the financial returns to be voluminous, they may commit to a larger payment to the freelancer. Sometimes clients assume that their product/ service would have a large customer base and make agreements with the freelancers on this basis. Assumptions on available resources and management expertise in the company also lead to guarantees which at times cannot be held by the client.
As Freelancers, we tend to make assumptions too. On a financial front, we assume our quotes will be accepted and payments will be made on time by the clients. The scope for work in projects is another major assumption we make. We either assume to have a large or small scope but proved wrong at a later stage. We make assumptions on the way a project will be executed either based on past experience or general standards, but the clients may want something different. When quoting the time requirements for completing the project, we may give very short time spans which may impress the clients but later, we find difficult to deliver. One of the biggest assumptions that we make as freelancers is the fact that we are enough for an entire project, but later figure that we require a hand in delivering results. When new to the field a lot of assumptions are made on projects being profitable us, but later on figure that it may not be and that we should have quoted higher.
To avoid such fatal mistakes, it is better we lay out all the assumptions we are making. This will result in setting the right expectations with the clients. And will also result in having documented proof for later stages of a project if conflict breaks out. After which we can be corrected and have a detailed discussion with the clients. In some cases, just because we have worked with clients in the same background, we tend to make assumptions with the new clients. Avoid doing this and make it a point to take the learning from the previous projects onto the new ones, instead of the assumptions.
In many cases, the clients may not have previous experience working with freelancers. Thus, it becomes vital for us to ask the right questions. By asking the right questions, the assumptions made on either end are discussed and there is less ambiguity related to the project. The right questions bring out a lot of information which the clients may not even be aware we require to make the project successful. So, it becomes our responsibility to cover all domains. The best way to handle such circumstances is by having constant discussions with the clients and showing the progress you are making in the projects. This will reduce the assumptions made by either party and make sure there is a good understanding, finally resulting is a successful project.
So when in Doubt, just Ask!