1. Write up a contract, and make sure you outline the responsibilities of both parties in GREAT detail.
This is especially true if the person you are working for is your FRIEND. Some of you might be thinking, "...I would never do work for a friend." I said the same thing until one of my friends approached me last year. And by the way, the problem isn't doing work for a friend...it's standing on a wall when you need to. A detailed, clear, concise contract gives you permission to smack your client upside the head if needed. And yes, they DO need a professional smack sometimes. Your friends need more smacks than your regular clients. My mistake? NO contract. Why? She was my very first offline client and I was a dumb*ss. Be ye not so stupid. I will write another post about what to include in that contract that will save you a ton of money and pain.
2. Do not perform offline services on trade.
I'm clear most of you are looking for cash, so you may never have done work on trade. That said, if I did it, someone here either IS doing it or HAS done it. If you are doing it, I recommend re-negotiating your agreement immediately with your client. I worked on trade with three different clients at the very beginning of 2009. Let's be straight about it...working on trade equals "I don't have cashflow". YOU don't have cashflow and THEY don't have cashflow. Period.
Ask yourself this question: If a business isn't cranking bread and butter income (at a minimum) offline, why are you putting them online? Doing that actually MAGNIFIES an existing problem in the business. Contrary to popular belief, cashflow isn't only a result of more exposure and more customers. Businesses have cashflow problems for MANY more reasons than not enough customers.
If you aren't interested in becoming the world's most underpaid business consultant, do not trade services. I created a set of criteria for who can be my client moving forward. I'll share that in another post as well.
3. PROMISE actions and SHOW THEM actions!
This is hands down the most difficult thing about offline consulting that I've run into. Every client wants me to promise results. When I began, I did promise results. BIG mistake that cost me literally thousands of dollars out of my own pocket. What I promise now are A LOT of actions...and speed. And I do mean A LOT OF ACTIONS. The actions take far less time than they did 18 months ago when I started. I've also created a way to show them the actions I take. My clients hear from me so much, I've been told most of them created "rules" in their email to send my notifications to a different folder (not their inbox). I consider that a compliment. I would rather be a nuisance than a void. Never again will a client ask for their money back from me. Promise actions and SHOW THEM your actions. I can see yet another post brewing on keeping your offline clients informed about your work. All in good time.
On a personal note, I discovered today that my 2009 Client from Hell (and formerly my friend) blocked me on Facebook. No surprise there. I paid 5 figures to walk away from that relationship, and it's the hardest lesson to date. I think we all try and put a happy face on things, and I can't paint one on this situation yet. There are days I'd like to pack up and move to another city. Today is one of them.
That said, I am grateful for everything my clients teach me about what I know, what I don't know...and what I think I know. And God bless Gordon Ramsey for Kitchen Nightmares, the TV show that started me on the offline consulting path in the first place. I'm every bit the ruthlessly committed *sshole he is, only slightly less famous.