You know how sometimes client’s can give you whiplash? No. Not literally…but almost. When you’re client keeps zigging when you planned on zagging?
Or they keep adding in more and more zags on top of the zigs? Or (to end with the zig zags) they keep contacting you with changes a million times after a phone call? They changed their mind on something so all the changes you made were actually wrong. They decided they need to have something added to their project. They expect more.
Whatever the case, the point is that sometimes you sign on clients that end up being a bit problematic even though they’re absolutely lovely as a person. While this is a great signifier that your contract could use some work on helping you set up boundaries, it’s also a sign that you’ve given them control of the project.
Guess what though? You can solve this really easily. Take back the control and own the fact that not only do you know what you’re doing, but you’re an expert and they need to trust you to do what’s best for them.
Easier said than done. I know. There’s this really tiny problem that’s posing as a big problem and is holding you back from owning it…confidence.
So, before we go on let me be clear. You don’t need to have a certification or degree to be considered an expert. You can be seen as one simply by starting to talk about that thing you do and are claiming as your specialty. It has this amazing compounding effect of snowballing once you start. You can choose to focus your time on bettering yourself in this area with the type of work you take on, and studying/talking about it. The more you do it, the more you’ll know, and the larger the gap between you and everyone else will become.
There’s a big difference between being an expert or a service provider and it really boils down to how you answer one question.
Are you asking your clients what to do, or are you telling them what to do?
If you list off a bunch of services you can do (like business cards, websites, brochures, thank you cards) and letting your client decide for themselves what they need then you’re a service provider even if you’re really good at it.
If you tend to start a conversation as, “Tell me/show me what you like,” then chances are you’re a service provider, not an expert.
Here’s why: As an expert you should know what your client needs better than they do. Your client is hiring you to solve a problem and it’s up to you as the expert to advise them on the best solution.
Rather than letting the client take control of the project, timeline, scope of work, and expecting to be treated as though they’re always right—forcing you to compromise and produce subpar work which generates subpar results—you (as the expert) lead the client.
I know and you know (and maybe even your client knows) you can do all that stuff the other guy who is listing out their services is doing, but you don’t. You know what you excel at. You study it and do it on a daily basis and are always working on improving yourself in this specific area.
You get to say, “Hey, I’m really good at xyz and have a system to get you results.” Your service is targeted to solve a specific solution, and quantifiable in you can measure your results.
Your client trusts the expert to do what needs to be done and to know best. Once you own it, be careful to continue to maintain control of your process and situations until it becomes second nature.
A service provider certainly has a purpose, but you owe it to yourself and your clients to be more for them and be specific about what you’re really good at.