Discuss financial expectations early on


  1. Establish a Minimum Level of Engagement (MLE).
    MLE refers to the minimum fee you require to take on a new client. This figure should represent a meaningful part of your target income for the year. Consider this a tool to filter out clients that cannot meet your financial requirements, so you can focus your efforts on more profitable and strategic engagements.
  2. Communicate your financial requirements early.
    Make it a habit to share your minimum level of engagement with potential clients at the beginning of your discussions. This can be framed positively by emphasizing the value and quality of work you provide and explaining that your business model focuses on clients who are ready to invest at or above this level. Use examples of how this practice has streamlined your client onboarding process and improved business relationships.
  3. Be prepared for money conversations.
    Develop a set of questions and talking points to help guide the conversation about money. This can include asking about the client's budget, their expectations for the project, and explaining your pricing structure. Practice these conversations with your team or in role-play scenarios to become more comfortable with the topic.
  4. Be flexible with your fees when needed.
    While maintaining your minimum level of engagement as a standard, be open to exceptions where it makes strategic sense. But ensure that waiving your minimum is a conscious decision made for solid business reasons, such as a strategic partnership or a long-term client relationship, not just to secure a project.
  5. Refuse projects that don't meet your criteria.
    Be selective and willing to turn down projects that are below your minimum level of engagement or do not align with your strategic goals. This selectivity reinforces your value and positioning in the market.


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