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The benefits of having multiple clients at once as a contractor are well known. It’s a smart way to spread risk, generate more income, work on a range of interesting projects and even begin to point towards an outside IR35 status.
But the fact of the matter is, it’s also easier said than done. And if you aren’t strategic in your approach, juggling multiple clients successfully can become a nightmare and potentially very costly - both from a financial and mentally perspective.
So cutting to the chase, how can contractors master the art of managing more than one client simultaneously?
With a number of clients on your books you need to become efficient and fluid with your time.
While you might be used to spending your whole working week dedicated to one project, by bringing on board another client, it’s important that you split your time as required.
Whether it’s hours, half or whole days, try planning your diary in advance and around your clients’ priorities to make sure they receive the service you promised them. Block out time accordingly in your calendar and keep your clients updated with your availability.
Alternatively, suggest retainers or set deliverables that don’t necessarily require you to work set times. This will give you the flexibility to get the work done whenever it suits you, as long as it's submitted to a high quality and by the deadline agreed.
In a perfect world you’d stick to this schedule - 2 days on client X, 1 day on client Y and 2 days on client Z.
However, the reality is that there will be some crossover - times when you’re needed urgently by one client on a day that you’ve alloted for another. It’s therefore vital that you have a flexible approach to work and the agility to jump from one project to another instantly.
No app, technology or process can help you achieve this. It comes down to your mindset - you need to get comfortable with juggling and have the ability to drop everything at any given moment to deal with another client request. What’s more, you then need to make sure you complete the task you were originally working on.
Again, it’s a skill that you’ll need to hone fairly quickly - but one that you’ll probably get to grips with faster than you imagine.
It sounds odd, doesn’t it? Turning down work isn’t something that contractors are inclined to do.
However, with more than one client in play, saying yes to everything that comes your way might overwhelm you. So be transparent and completely honest and only take on what you can manage. It’ll prove to be a smarter commercial decision in the long-run and one that will help protect your mental health.
Don’t over promise only to underdeliver. Do this and clients will likely spend their money elsewhere and with contractors who can meet the expectations that have been set.
This is why agreeing on deliverables with your clients is key - whether it’s days worked, tasks of even projects completed. With absolute clarity over what needs to be done and when, all parties can proceed with confidence.
Working on numerous projects simultaneously means work rarely gets boring, but it can become tiring, stressful and detrimental to you and your business if you aren’t careful. This is why you should never rule out calling in help.
If you do find that you need extra support, subcontracting work out to someone you trust is a smart way to lighten your workload while ensuring clients stay happy. Get your margins right and you should also be able to make money from this too.
Some advice, though - make sure the contracts you hold with clients include the right of substitution or even consider working under a Statement of Work (SoW). Not only will it strengthen your status as working outside IR35, but it will also give you the freedom to engage other contractors to pitch in.
To conclude, while there may be a short transitional period as you get familiar with managing more than one client, by taking notice of these 5 key points it won’t take long before you’ve well and truly mastered this art.
Appointing an accountant can save you time and stress when starting up on your own. If you would like to speak to someone about any of the above information or any other queries you may have, arrange a callback and a member of the team will be in touch.
If you're already a client of ours, you can speak to your dedicated accountant directly.
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