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I give a lot to my clients, and I never like to say no. An old boyfriend once told me, “I think if I caught on fire when you were on a call with a client, you wouldn’t put me out.” I think offering this level of service has been good for my business; my clients know I will do as much as I can to help them. But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

I recently took on a project that I thought would be small. Suffice it to say…it wasn’t. Thirteen iterations of the questionnaire, 8 versions of the report, and 3 months of almost daily conference calls later, I’ve learned a few things about setting limits.

1. Get all the cooks in the same kitchen… The problem with this project was that there were too many players, and they didn’t talk to each other. If I could go back to the beginning, I would have had a meeting with everyone involved at once.

2. …and get in the kitchen myself. Having a conference call with 5 people in New York (when I’m in New Orleans) is no fun. I couldn’t get a word in. From here on, I need to have at least one in-person meeting with clients.

3. Set limits. I spent tons of time servicing this client, to the detriment of other work. Eventually I had to start saying no to meeting invitations and pushing back on requests.

4. Delegate. There were times where I didn’t say no or push back (see above), and I ended up buried in work– trying to help this client while also working with other clients. I needed help. Luckily, I’m building a great “hive” of people I can outsource to, so the help was there!

Any other lessons I should have taken away from this experience? Share in the comments!

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