What did you expect?

People will either rise up or down to meet your expectations.  It’s really up to you.  If you want your clients, your colleagues, maybe even your family to treat you in a particular way, then it’s your job to educate them up to the right level.

What do you expect?

I mentioned how to set business expectations in an earlier post but wanted to give you a bit of an example.  It’s surprising how often entreprenuers don’t set expectations in our business lives.  You’d think that someone who wants to be self-employed would be all about creating their own best work environment.  Apparently, no so much.  You and I both know solopros that let their clients walk all over them.  Why don’t they speak up?

Rules mean consequences

You accept the consequences when you set the rules.  (for a moment I’m using the words rule and expectations interchangeably) That’s the hard bit-accountability.  It’s like drawing a line in the sand and daring someone else to cross it.  Feels bossy. And, if they cross that line, well, what will you do then?  That stand-off can be a  bit scary.

I have clients who refuse to set any expectations with their clients.  Nada.  Zilch. They say things like:

  • it’s all about you.
  • Whatever you want.
  • I can do that immediately, if not sooner.
  • Pay when you can.
  • Sure, I’ll throw that in

They twist their lives into knots- working harder, making less- in the name of serving well.   Then wonder why they feel bullied and powerless.  Not a good look and kinda unnecessary.

Here’s the problem.  DOH! You gave away your power -your ability to make things happen in your business.  That’s why you are broke and feel unappreciated. You let your client run your business and YOU.  You’ll never earn more by making yourself less.

Take back your power

You can take back your power in your small business without being pushy or worried or scared. It’s a two step process- figure out what you expect then figure out the best way to educate around that.

This is not about pressuring anyone. And, you can do it.  It’s simply you saying what matters most to you and why that matters to your client’s end result.  Clients listen to WIIFM radio so that’s the station you gotta dial into when explaining how you do your best work.

Take a crack at the first step- identifying your expectations and we’ll circle back to explanations in a future post.

Below is the type of chart I use when I’m noodling on this.  It has a couple of my examples. You’ll notice some are on the operational side like payment and homework, but you also want to set behavioral expectations, too, like how you like to handle disputes or make decisions.  Have you thought about that before?


What I Expect from Clients
Topic  My Expectation Why?
payment I will be paid on time; be informed early if payment will be late It’s a sign of respect; keeps cash coming in
client homework Homework will be done thoughtfully and in a timely way. Your contribution helps me serve you better; not doing homework means a lack of commitment; wastes time.
 disputes  We will work together to solve problems and talk first before anything else.  This is how I roll; it’s saves time, money and most importantly, relationships.

Two things to avoid

Don’t assume that your clients know what you expect.   You know the old saying around that one.

Don’t get overwhelmed with this.  Write your topics list slowly as you become more aware of what you want and need.  And, remember this is an evolving document.  As you learn and grow as a businessperson so will your list.

Let me leave you with a thought from Michael Beckwith that inspires me to speak up and make my work life as wonderful as possible.

What you think about you bring about.

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