If you're routinely or occasionally presented with NDAs (non-disclosure agreements), this can be a source of friction in your business:
👨⚖️ Signing an NDA could open you up to legal risk
💸 Having your lawyer review NDAs costs you money
🕰️ Reviewing the NDAs yourself costs you time
I take the stance that you should set up a 'price speed bump' to discourage people who show up with NDAs in hand.
Here's the language I recommend for this, pulled from the as-yet-unpublished Just Say 'No': Scripts for Freelancers and Consultants:
There's a $500 fee for the cost for my lawyer to review your NDA. If you're willing to pay that fee, send the NDA over, and I'll send it to my lawyer. No guarantees on me signing once my lawyer has reviewed it.
Today, I ran into something that opened my eyes to a different approach.
Pay your attorney to draft up a standard NDA for your business. Have them walk you through it:
What you can negotiate
What you cannot negotiate
What should make you think: "I better talk to my lawyer."
Then, set up a standard process where you offer to send your NDA to the other party
Great, I'm excited to learn more about what you need help with. I'll go ahead and send over our standard NDA for you to review and sign.
You get a few perks in exchange for the cost of doing this:
👨⚖️ Boutique NDA
You have an NDA that's written for you, your business, your needs, and your protection from legal risk.
You can rest assured that your NDA will protect you.
♻️ Rinse and Repeat Process
You now have a 'rinse and repeat' process you can follow to send your NDA to any lead that asks for one: send them the NDA through HelloSign (https://hellosign.com).
☮️ Peace of Mind
You can offer your leads and clients the peace of mind of knowing they've signed an NDA.
💰 Save Money by Investing Money
If you have your lawyer review every NDA that's sent to you (or if you're spending the time to read them all yourself), then you have a cost each time an NDA shows up.
Dodge this recurring cost with your one-time investment in a custom NDA for your business.
Now, instead of a recurring cost, you have a standard operating procedure you can follow and a standard document you can use to offer your leads peace of mind (and give yourself legal protection).
This morning, as I wandered into the kitchen, still half asleep, I remembered that there were pre-made smoothie bags in the freezer from this week’s meal prep.
For a delicious berry + greens protein smoothie, all I needed to do was:
Pop the bag out of the freezer
Dump it into the blender
Add soy milk
Turn the blender on
(Spot the critical missing step yet?)
I followed my remembered process, prep my smoothie, turn the blender on, and smoothie promptly coats my kitchen cabinets and counter.
I forgot to put the lid back on the blender.
You don’t ever think to yourself:
I should write down the steps I follow to make my morning smoothie
or, for the business equivalent:
I should write down the steps for how I use my budgeting software
Or Google Analytics. Or add a page to your website. Or send an email to your list. Or invoice a client.
And then, when you don’t expect it, smoothie flies up into your face.
No matter how small the action or project, if it’s something you’re going to do more than once, write the steps down. Create a Standard Operating Procedure you can follow. Future you will thank you for taking the time to write down the steps:
Here are three things to avoid discussing or mentioning in conversation with your lead or client — and suggestions on what to say instead.
If you use a consulting ‘term of art’ (a word or phrase that has a precise, specialized meaning within the fields of freelancing and consulting), you will accidentally confuse your client.
“This is a Productized Service”
Don’t call it a Productized Service.
Why? This is a highly technical term. Your client will not understand what a Productized Service is. Referring to it as such introduces a lot of potential for risk and objections.
One time, a lead heard me say “Productized Service” when discussing their upcoming project. Immediately, they raised an objection: they thought we were discussing my service and instead, we’re talking about my product? Confusion city, my friend.
When you’re talking with your clients, keep it simple and keep it crystal clear. Don’t call it a Productized Service; call it a Service.
Don’t tell your client that you’re following a value-based methodology to determine their price.
Why? If you open up a conversation about Value-Based Pricing, then you’ll be talking about (and defending) your pricing process instead of talking with the client about the project.
Instead, just share the price and why this is a valuable investment for the client:
This is the price: $…
Don’t mention your pricing process, systems, or techniques — value-based or otherwise — to the client.
Don’t call it a Roadmapping Session.
Let’s compare and contrast these two names for the same hypothetical service: a marketing plan for your Shopify Store that defines the top 2-3 priorities to focus on to get more conversions.
Shopify Marketing Roadmapping Session
Shopify Marketing Action Plan
The second focuses on the outcome/output of the process (the Marketing Action Plan) instead of focusing on the process.
Roadmapping Session is another highly technical term that you want to avoid using with clients. A Roadmapping Session is a type of engagement: a paid discovery and strategic engagement that helps you and the client learn more about the client’s business and current situation and determine the best paths forward. https://kaidavis.com/roadmapping/
When you’re offering a Roadmapping Session, make the name attractive and relevant to the client.
“Action Plan” instead of “Roadmapping Session.”
“Website Rescue” instead of “Website Audit” (no one wants to be audited)
Name your service in a way that aligns with or hints at the outcome or benefits your target market is looking for.
If you’re a Windows/Linux user, I recommend searching around (duckduckgo.com) for an OS- or Web-equivalent. In The Year of Our Lady (YOOL) Two Thousand and Nineteen, there are (most likely) similar pieces of software out there for you to use. If not, hey, there’s an app idea for you!
None of these recommendations are paid recommendations. I’m not compensated in any way for these recommendations. There is one affiliate link that’s clearly labeled.
OmniFocus is available on macOS, iOS, and has a brand new web version (https://www.omnigroup.com/OmniFocus/web !!!) which seems rad as hell. I’ve been wishing for OmniFocus for the Web for 9 years. Hallelujah.
TextExpander — Text Snippets
TextExpander is my secret weapon. Email templates, little snippets of text (phone numbers, addresses, names), and everything else you can think of, you can store in TextExpander.
They’re the best in the business when it comes to securing your passwords and making them incredibly easy for you to access.
1Password is built around making your passwords secure and easy to access. You need to remember your Master Password to unlock the app and your vault — mine is a multi-word phrase that’s easy to recall — and then you have easy access to your passwords.
1Password (https://1password.com/) makes it so easy to access my passwords, I’m finally using long, random, highly secure passwords for each website I use. It’s great. And it’s painless.
I’m including this here as a recommendation because nvALT is a fantastic tool:
You pop it up and start typing. Search or create a note in seconds. It has blazing fast and accurate full-text search, the ability to find related notes based on content, and very complete Markdown editing tools (complete with syntax highlighting and theme editing).
I’m switching from Gmail (with a set of Gmail enhancing apps) to a desktop client.
In the past, I used and loved Newton (https://newtonhq.com/). Great app. Then it shut down. And I learned today that it’s back open? It’s on the list to try out again.
Right now I’m trying out Spark (https://sparkmailapp.com/), on Philip Morgan’s excellent recommendation. It’s a lovely piece of software that has ~3 of my favorite (paid) Gmail extensions baked into the app. That’s pretty cool.
I haven’t used either enough yet to give a strong recommendation.
If you enjoyed this dive into software Kai uses, loves, and recommends, after using it himself for hundred of hours, then hit reply and let me know. I can write you a wicked sharp article on tools (and recommended systems) to make your Gmail email experience less distracting, more productive, and less anxiety-inducing.
A pitch question – I’ve been doing SEO and digital marketing for a local heating and air conditioning business. A couple weeks in, things seem to be going well; however, their website is really holding them back.
How would you go about pitching a new website to someone that doesn’t see that a bad website = fewer conversions? The last person kind of burned them with a “you need a new website because you do” attitude, and totally made a mess of things.
The first step is reaching an agreement with the client on what they see as the objective for their website.
You’re looking for an answer that aligns with the money: leads, conversions, phone calls, etc.
If your client doesn’t view their website as a business investment that exists to help them make money, then you’re going to have a hard time convincing them of the value in a new website.
Let’s assume that your client has The Number One Business Desire of any service business:
They want more leads.
How do you help your client move in that direction? Especially when the client is resistant to the idea of a new website?
I’m planning on quitting my job in a month. I want to start freelancing. What should I do to get my first client?
I told them that the most valuable thing they could do would be to go out and get rejected by 10 business owners in their target market.
If they did that in a month, they’d be miles ahead of the game by the time they quit their job.
The most valuable thing you can do as a freelancer or consultant is to learn more about your target market. As you learn more about your target market, you’ll understand the pains and problems they’re experiencing, where they spend money, and what industry shibboleths you’ll need to know to blend in.
It doesn’t matter how much industry knowledge you already have1, you will learn about your target market by having conversations with people who are in your target market.
You want to get out there and work on starting conversations with people. If they respond, that’s a success! If they don’t respond, that’s also a success.
When you make an intentional effort at talking with people in your target market, you’re also spending time on things that will help you better understand your target market:
You’re making a decision on what market to target
You’re researching where you can find them, online and offline
You’re reading articles about them, for them, and by them
You’re watching videos and consuming information written about them
You’re learning how to write emails to them
You’re learning how to follow-up and what to say in your follow-up emails
These are all incredibly valuable outputs while you’re working on an outcome like “have conversations with people in your target market.” That’s one of the topics covered in The Independent Consulting Manual (https://kaidavis.com/independent-consulting-manual/).
And those are your outputs if you do not succeed in starting conversations with people in your target market. That’s what happens if you get rejected.
If you set a goal of:
Have 10 conversations with people in your target market
and send 20 emails and get 0 replies, the rejection implicit in those ‘empty’ replies can make the experience feel like a failure.
You set out to do the thing. You did the thing.
You did the correct things in the right order.
It didn’t work.
Well, it depends on how you look at it.
Having conversations is a bit of a leap of faith. It takes two to tango and all that jazz.
Let’s reframe a goal like
Have 10 conversations with…
Around what you actually have control over: the number of people you try and get in touch with.
What’s the most likely result of you trying to get in touch with someone?
Most likely, it will be “They Did Not Reply “.
Count your rejections. Aim to be rejected.
Take joy in being rejected.
If you are rejected by 10, 20, or 100 people in your target market, that means that you’ve taken the time, invested the energy, and done the work to start conversations with those 10, 20, or 100 people.
Along the way, you’ll have learned a surprising amount about your target market.
Where 16Personalities was great at helping me better understand me, The Fascination Advantage has helped me better understand how to market me.
Over to TFA:
How do clients and coworkers see you at your best?
The Fascinate® Personality Test is the first way to measure your personal brand’s most impressive qualities.
How you are most likely to make a brilliant first impression
How your personality adds value to teams
Potential “watch-outs” for your communication
The Fascination Advantage: branding, not psychology
The Fascinate® Personality Test is based on a commissioned study by Kelton Global. It measured how people interact with brands, and the different communication styles humans respond to. We found seven different advantages: Innovation, Passion, Power, Prestige, Trust, Mystique and Alert.
While not as good as a 1-on-1 brand workshop for freelancers (If you need one of those, email me. I know someone who is accepting referrals), The Fascination Advantage can give you a look into how clients see you at your best.