Time management. A key ingredient to being an effective small business owner or independent contractor. Your time is literally money. You need time to spend on each client and project. And you need to know how effectively to manage all that time, juggle your projects and keep your clients happy.

But there are times when a project balloons out of control. A contractor quits, you run into glitches, simple things become more complex and all of a sudden a project that was supposed to take weeks ends up taking many many weeks. What do you do?

How do you explain it to your client?

You create a contract, you set a deadline, you quote a financial estimate….and none of it matches up. At what point do you bite the bullet and absorb the cost of things, and at what point do you say to your client, “Look, this is far more than we bargained for, and it’s going to go over the price quote.”

No really, I’m asking you to give me some insight into this kind of situation!

I’m such a giver and a people please-er I don’t know when to say, “no.” One thing I’ve learned is to be very very clear on the scope of work. I think there can be some ambiguous loop holes and nothing worse then getting caught in a perpetual loop.

Be precise in what you will and wont do. For instance, today, I was talking with another company and they said to re-wrap their plug-in for the website was free the first two times, but after that they charge. Okay fair enough. How about 2 edits of a website and after that, charge for changes. (Yes I know this is probably typical of most web design firms yet it wasn’t spelled out in my contract) This will cause a client to really be clear on what they want on the website. This would be a smart thing to write into my next contract.

Please pass on any sage advice and ideas for creating stronger contracts, better scopes of work, and keeping projects from ballooning out of control, while still keeping clients happy.