This picture was taken in Kairouan, Tunisia. It’s the place in the whole world where I feel most calm, peaceful, happy and at home. Yep: a desert town in the middle of Tunisia. It’s a holy place, with a huge mosque, but also a bustling and lively town. Why the connection? I put it down to my theory that my Spanish ancestor originated from North Africa and that it’s some blood connection with the place. I’ve been there twice, felt the same both times. Anyway, I was reminded of this photo when I was adding it to my Facebook page, and I want to put it on here to remind me of happy and calm times.
This post is a quick update on how time and client management is going here at Libro Towers. Many of you were kind enough to read and comment on my previous post where I wondered out loud how to manage a slightly-too-busy schedule. I had loads of advice and was also mulling over various options I had put together: I’m pleased to report that things are going a lot better and more calmly now, even though I’ve just had my busiest week to date!
Managing regular urgent work
I’ve had a breakthrough here, in that I’ve managed to organise back-up for a couple of those clients who are regulars, and great customers, but send me often large files at often short notice. I had already raised the “what if I’m busy, what if I want to go on holiday” issue with them, but we hadn’t got round to discussing it further. Not their fault, not my fault, just timing. Then – crunch time – I have a big semi-regular project on this week. And a big file came through from a regular. In consultation with them, I sourced someone who could do the work, explained it to them and provided back-up as they did it (it wasn’t quite the sort of work they are used to) and was pleased to find that a) the client was happy with their work; b) they were happy doing the work; c) it worked fine to have them invoice the client direct; d) the client is a good payer so everyone was happy there; and e) the client is happy for this person to provide emergency cover in the future.
Hooray! and this just shows that persistence works, and that often solutions come through when there’s a practical issue rather than just a theoretical one.
“Make them pay more”
A strong theme in the comments on the post was around making clients pay more in order to (I think) a) put them off and b) make sure I am being compensated adequately. As I have explained, I adjusted my prices in January of this year so that I was charging a more fair rate (for me!) for the writing services I offer, and moved editing and proof-reading work onto a full per-word rate, allowing for more predictability and again a fairer rate for me, as I had been under-charging. So I haven’t adjusted any current clients, as that would not be fair, and I am charging industry standard rates now anyway. There was an issue with students I’d worked with previously sending me more work on the same project and me feeling I should charge them the old, per-hour rate. But this turned out to be a red herring, as I have actually worked my way through all of those, and all student clients are now on my new rates anyway.
Turning down work
I was doing this already and have continued – anything that looks like it will be a one-off small job (and I don’t have time to do it right then) or is not part of my core set of services, now gets rejected or referred on to a colleague. In the last couple of weeks I have turned down a couple of small localisation jobs, passed on some student enquiries to a recommended friend, and passed on the opportunity to do some virtual assistant work for a current client, directing her on to another recommended friend who is doing well providing that service to her.
I was quite amazed how much just writing that Keep Calm and Carry On post helped me sort things out in my head. I was good at letting current regulars know when I have a big project on (that’s just good customer service, I think) and better about talking through individual issues with business colleagues already, but I was also inspired to set up a local “networking” group (I was originally going to call it Cafe Of Pain, which I liked but some others didn’t – it’s now the Kings Heath Homeworkers’ group) whereby local people can pop a note on the Facebook group or Twitter if they just need a quick coffee and a chat. This has nine members now and I have met up regularly for “grown-up homework club” with one friend (she does her language class homework and I work on my research project). It’s making a difference just to know there are local people around one can call on or meet up with in an informal way.
- It’s good to talk
- Solutions in business usually seem to come out of practical rather than theoretical situations
- Things are getting better and will hopefully stay that way
- People who read this blog are marvellous