Why I Insist On Contracts With My Clients

I’ve been consulting with business owners for many, many years and there was a time when I did not use contracts or agreements. I never felt the need to inject a formal and legal aspect to the work I had proposed and so a handshake seemed like the way to go.

consulting contract

photo credit: NobMouse via photopin cc

A few years ago I changed my tune completely on contracts and not because I got burned or felt the need to create something legally binding.

What changed was my view of what a contract could stand for and perhaps my definition of the word contract in general.

In my mind, particularly in the coaching, consulting and professional services world, a client relationship must be a mutually beneficial one if it’s going to work. In other words, both parties have to come to the relationship fully prepared to do their part if the most value is to be realized.

Now, what that mutual participation looks like differs for every business, but in my experience if a clear expectation and understanding of what that looks like is missing, trouble is not far away.

Think about past client work that didn’t go as well as it could. Usually what occurred was miscommunication or a misunderstanding of expectations.

Quite often we are so happy to get the work we don’t have the authentic conversation that needs to be had upfront. It’s so much harder to go back and recreate expectations once the work has begun.

So, back to the idea of a contract

I now use contracts with every engagement. I don’t use them, however, to create some legally binding agreement, I use them as a tool to communicate expectations, needs and wants for both parties.

Of course I want to be paid as agreed and that’s part of the contract, but I write these contracts in very plain language after careful discussion with the client about what we both need to do. The document is more of a social contract than a legal one.

I know my more legal minded readers may take issue with the casual nature of my use of contract. For what I’m describing I could easily use the term agreement and communicate the same thing, but here’s why I intentionally choose the word contract.

A valid contract needs to be entered into with the consent of both parties and it needs to spell out clearly the value exchanged by both parties. I don’t necessarily view my contract with a client as any more binding than an agreement, but I do find that the use of the concept raises the level of commitment from both parties.

I use the tool to spell out what kind of access and information I need from the client to do the work, the objectives and deliverables I am responsible for and they are responsible for, the level of support and communication I need from the client and their staff, the time table for getting together and finishing the work, the way results will be measured, how feedback will be given and of course how payment will be made.

The contract is drawn directly from the conversations we have in preparation for doing the work. The objectives are often outlined and prepared by the client through a collaborative approach, as are the goals and metrics.

I have found that this conversation is the best way to measure the client’s actual level of commitment to the work I’m being asked to do.

This approach to drawing up our ultimate contract is one of most important aspects of getting a project started right. In fact, this conversation has led to agreeing not to work together as well and that’s another powerful reason to make it an essential process.

I’ve wrestled with many names for this process but the term contract keeps coming back as the best use. The level of commitment it expresses, from both parties, sets the table for meeting and exceeding expressed expectations and guiding projects back on track when one or both parties fails to perform.

The #1 Reason You Feel Like a Failure and What To Do About It Today

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Noah St. John – Enjoy!

Naturally, every business owner wants their business to grow. When you’re trying to change anything about your business, or your life for that matter—whether you want to gain more customers, increase profits, improve your health, or whatever result you’re looking for—what you’re really trying to do is create a new reality for yourself.

Let’s illustrate that by saying that you want to go from your current reality to a new reality.

The funny thing about reality, though, is that all reality is perceived reality.  Here’s what’s really happening when you’re trying to grow your business or change your life…

1. Right now, you are living in what I call your Current Perceived Reality (CPR). In your CPR, you have what you have, you know what you know, you do what you do, and you are what you are.  This is your Current Perceived Reality—and to you, it is reality. It is your own little universe.

2. What you want is to be someplace else. That “someplace else” is what I call your New Desired Reality (NDR). In this case, you want to grow your business. But it could just as easily mean you want to change your health, your weight, your finances, your relationships, your sphere of influence, or any number of other things.

3. Between your CPR and your NDR lies what I call your Belief Gap: the space between where you perceive you are right now (your CPR) and what it will be like when you arrive “someplace else” (your NDR).

Here’s a picture to illustrate what I’m talking about…

Noah St John

photo credit: Noah St. John

How big is your Belief Gap? That depends on how long you’ve been in your CPR, how hard you think it will be to get to your NDR, how many of your friends and employees tell you, “It’s impossible,” when you tell them your dreams; and so on.

Bottom line? Your business may be failing because you haven’t bridged your Belief Gap for the results you want and are working so hard for.

Here are four ways to start bridging your Belief Gap starting today…

1. Use AFFORMATIONS

No, that’s not a typo. Afformations are a new technology of the mind that immediately changes your subconscious thought patterns from negative to positive. Afformations use your brain’s “embedded presupposition factor” to change your unconscious assumptions about what you can and can’t do (see #3 below).

Using Afformations has helped thousands of business owners bridge their Belief Gap and add millions in new revenues while working less and having more time off.

2. Ask yourself what you really want.

It’s true: You can’t get where you’re going if you don’t know where that is. Ask yourself, “If time or money were no object, what would I love to be, do, or have?” If the answer doesn’t frighten you a little, you may not be asking big enough!

3. Challenge your assumptions.

You are continually forming assumptions about life and your relationship to it. The problem is, many business owners assume negative things like It’s too hard or If I haven’t done it by now, I’ll probably never do it.

If these are your unconscious assumptions, your actions will be tentative, fearful, and anticipating failure—and your results will be less than desirable.

Just because you’ve failed in the past does not make you a “failure”. The simple fact that you’re reading this right now means that you are far stronger than you think.

4. Take out your head trash.

Most business owners are constantly focused on what they don’t have and who they are not. I call this your head trash.

Imagine if every negative thought you had ever had was a piece of trash in your home. Now imagine that you never took out the trash. Your home would be pretty disgusting, wouldn’t it?

Take out your head trash and you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to breathe—literally!

Bottom line: Use Afformations, take out your head trash, and watch your business—and your life—change in amazing ways.

 

1Noah-St-John-Head-Shot-High-ResNoah St. John is famous for inventing Afformations® and creating customized strategies for fast-growing companies and leading organizations around the world. His sought-after advice is known as the “secret sauce” for creating superstar performance.

Noah’s engaging and down-to-earth speaking style always gets high marks from audiences. As the leading authority on how to eliminate limiting beliefs, Noah delivers speeches, seminars, and mastermind programs that have been called “mandatory for anyone who wants to succeed in business.”

Get $500 worth of “The World’s Greatest Abundance Training” FREE when you get The Book of Afformations at www.AfformationsBook.com/more.

The Simple Truth That Everyone With a Coach Understands

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Robert D. Smith – Enjoy!

Coaches and Consultants

Image Credit: marcello99

After over 30 years in the artist management business, I’ve come to learn something about the difference between successful artists—whether they’re authors, speakers, singers, musicians, etc.—and unsuccessful artists.

The successful ones know a little secret that applies to much more than just artists and stage personalities. It applies to you, both in your personal and professional lives, regardless of the nature of your business.

Are you ready to hear it?

The brand cannot manage itself.

Why? Because the brand is blinded by its gifts. Not in a selfish way, but in a way that begs for guidance on how to maximize its gift’s value.

This applies to you because, no matter what you do (even if you do nothing), you are a brand. You give a feeling, a perception, to those around you. There are certain talents and gifts you possess, and nothing will serve them better than a trusted, outside perspective.

I’m talking about a coach.

Do You Need to Hire a Coach?

I’ll make this one easy for you by slightly rephrasing the response. You do NOT need to hire a coach if:

  • You do not want to advance your life
  • You do not have a dream
  • You do not want more
  • You are fully satisfied with your lot in life
  • You have already found your life’s purpose and feel you have accomplished it and are done

However, if you DO want more—to give more, be more, reach more people with what you are doing, it is imperative to have a coach, to get another person’s take on what you are doing.

You need to be able to see beyond the tunnel vision that we all have around the things we are doing.

At the very least, you need another person to be able to ask you the outstanding questions you have not thought of yet. And that’s what a good coach can do.

How to Find a Good Coach

There are certain qualities that you absolutely must be aware of and seek out when looking for the right coach. Exceptions are possible for every rule, but these are good general rules of thumb to help you on your search.

  1. Most likely, you don’t know them. Your friends are probably not going to make good coaches. That’s not to say you should never seek their counsel if you respect their opinions. However, the reality is that most friends are just too darn polite. And polite is something you do not need.
  2. You need honesty. Actually, what you need is a degree beyond honesty. It’s a kick in the butt, a 2×4 upside the head. You need someone who can look you in the eye and say, “What you are saying is not true.” If they can’t challenge your thinking, they’re not up for the job.
  3. They can be more affordable than you might think. Many people instantly brush off the idea of hiring a coach by telling themselves it’s just too expensive. That’s like saying a car is too expensive. Well, what kind of car? You can pay anywhere from $500 to $500,000 and get a car that runs. Coaches are the same way. There is a broad range of what is available to you.

The best part is that you don’t have to pay a ton to find a quality coach. There are plenty out there who do a great job and are still on the lower end of the price range.

Take some time and do the research. Most likely, you’ll be able to take coaches for test drives before you commit to anything. I’ve yet to find one who doesn’t do a free coaching call of at least 15-20 minutes to see if you’re gelling.

If you’re ready to take your brand, your business, your life to the next level, a coach can give you the map it will take to get there. Identify what you think are your needs, do the research, find the right person, and move forward with massive action.

It takes tunnel-vision-like focus to become great at something. A coach gives you the chance to keep that focus while also gaining access to the 10,000-foot view. Are you ready to see it?

Robert D Smith HeadshotRobert D. Smith is the author of 20,000 Days and Counting, a crash course in living every day with maximum purpose and intensity. He also writes on entrepreneurship, personal growth, and more at TheRobertD.com.