1. The 80/20 Experience Rule
When I was studying advertising at Syracuse University, an exec from one of the top social media agencies dropped in and offered this tip: “Say ‘yes’ to everything, then figure out how to do it later.”
Sounds like good advice, right? That’s what I thought at the time… which is why it took me almost a year and a half to finally realize this gung ho philosophy was wrecking my business.
Take Donald Trump, for example. On the campaign trail he thought fixing healthcare would be “easy.” Then, after just three months as President, he had to admit, “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” Well, duh.
Job opportunities always look simpler to us before the work starts. That’s why it’s smart to follow an 80/20 rule: Don’t take a freelance job unless you’re confident you already know how to do 80% of the work.
2. Under promise, over-deliver
Granted, “Make America Great Again” was a brilliant slogan, but the extravagant promises that went along with it over-burdened Trump’s presidency before it even began.
When you’re communicating with clients or prospects, always commit to a goal you KNOW you can meet. People will always respond more positively to an average result that meets their expectations than an above-average result that doesn’t.
Case in point: Would you rather buy a Civic and get a Civic or pay for a Ferrari and get a BMW?
3. Help is a good thing
Pretty much every day now, some White House staff member will come out and make a statement, only to have President Trump take things in a completely different direction.
Confidence is a good thing, but no freelancer can be an expert in everything.
Do yourself a favor. Figure out what you’re good at—what you like doing—then build long-term relationships with other freelancers who can handle the things you don’t excel at (or enjoy).
4. Admit when you’re over your head
Last year, I took on a project that really wasn’t a good fit for my skill set. I realized this very early on, but just kept forging ahead because I was afraid to admit that accepting it had been a mistake.
Even though the project turned out alright, it consumed way too much of my time and put me in a financial hole. It wasn’t worth the stress.
At some point, Trump must have sensed this too. I’m not sure he ever wanted the responsibility of being president. Just recently, he was quoted as saying, “I loved my previous life… actually, this is more work than my previous life.”
So, trust your instincts. If you feel something is seriously wrong, be honest with your clients. Offer a clear explanation and apology as soon as possible. They’ll appreciate you not wasting their time, and you’ll thank yourself for not diving down a rabbit hole!