He is a young man I have known for close to 8 years. Upon completion of his university studies, he definitely fell into the unemployment abyss of Uganda’s youths. Being the hustler that he is, he tried his hands at multiple things but life was just not shifting.
One day he woke up and decided to leave the environs of Kampala for Mbale where from scratch he launched himself into the media industry. I have seen him grow his profile progressively and his achievements so far are impressive. One of the things he does currently is Event Photography as well as Videography.
We had a chat at my office recently and he confessed to me how he has been disappointed by some clients in his work. They come to him pleading for minimal charges only for them to expect services worth a million dollars. He was wondering what to do.
I have faced such before on my business journey and even today, there are a few incidents I still come across. My advice to especially the young entrepreneurs on this is:
Know your value: You are in the marketplace, it is very competitive but then again you know where your strength lies and what endears you to your customers. Get a clear understanding of the value you bring onto the table for a customer and quantify it financially. This acts as your compass when billing for work.
Target the right customers: Now that you know your value, profile the kind of customers that would be well suited to appreciate your value proposition. Remember that not everyone is meant to be your customer. Most times we compromise when it comes to relatives, friends, Old School mates etc but this is where the biggest danger lurks. Such people tend to think they are entitled to the highest quality but cheapest possible service from you. If you are to serve such and they can’t meet your rates, then offer a pro bono service maybe. You are better off having two or three gigs a month from the right profile of customers than 10 gigs a month from unappreciative low paying clients.
Stick to your standards: When you set standards, stick to them. If you offer a service that ranges from field photography to editing all the way to album compilation, ensure you do it the best way you can. Do not be led into shortcuts where the customer asks you to only take photos and share those. You shall definitely be blamed for things you could have avoided. This friend of mine told me of how a friend asked for a very low charge and upon doing the work, by the time he was done, clearly all the money he billed had been spent on the job. Matters were worsened by the fact that he has to-date only been paid half so far and the client is complaining already of a poor service.
Good pay motivates: When I take on a job and I am being paid well, I have the tendency of giving it my all. I sometimes end up doing a few extras for the customer. This is what good pay means. However, when the pay in inadequate, naturally I relegate that activity to the periphery and this even affects my creative juices. At the end of the day, I offer a product or service that only serves to dilute my brand. You don’t want that. Do you?
Document: Most times young entrepreneurs rely on word of mouth to start working on a job. This is mistake number one. It is the one that leads to the failure to receive payments as well as continuous change in scope of work to be done. It is very crucial that you agree with the client in writing on the key deliverables as well as the financial and delivery timelines. In case of a breakdown in the relationship with the customer, you can only rely on the signed paperwork when it comes to arbitration. I always receive calls from individuals and organisations regarding blogging work but the first thing I request of them is to put their request in writing and send it to my email. Only two out of ten usually follow through with the written requests. This approach has helped me sieve the jokers from the serious customers.
If you are trying to make ends meet on your own, it is important that you set a standard for yourself that the market shall know you for and be ready to pay. Remember being busy doesn’t always mean you’re making money. Sometimes two or three well targeted jobs in a month are much better than fifteen jobs.
James Wire is a Technology and Business Consultant based in Kampala
Follow him @wirejames on Twitter
Email – lunghabo [at] gmail [dot] com