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I lost a client yesterday. We had talked and agreed on what I was going to do. We had agreed on the hourly rate, we had set a time frame. Then I sent the agreement…

He essentially said that the contract scares him, and that he had expected something less complicated. He said that he doesn’t want to have to pay his attorney to look it over, so he feels he would be better of finding someone else for the job.

I was surprised. My Agreement (I don’t even use the word “contract”) is based on a dead simple contract template. I added a statement of work section, and made a few alterations. And that’s it. As far as contracts go, I’d say its pretty simple and straight forward. It uses simple language, and each section is only a paragraph or two. Now, there were probably a few paragraphs that I could have taken out if I would have really thought through things and spent an hour editing my contract specifically for him. But that wasn’t worth it in my mind. So where did I go wrong? The truth is, I probably didn’t.

You see, some clients have expectations. Sometimes you can meet them, and other times you can’t. Some clients expect one page contracts, others expect an eternity of free support, and others expect to pay $200 for a completely new website. Those are the type of clients that can make work difficult. Yet some clients have expectations that match up with yours. Those are the type of clients you want.

This potential client is a great guy, and I wish him well. I think that he and I just have different expectations and its probably best for both of us that we don’t work together. You see, this wasn’t the only thing – this client had a few other expectations that were out of my realm, and usually, if things start out “bad” or “very challenging” with a client, they will end like that. So when you see red flags at the beginning, its best to get out and count your blessings that you can now look for other clients who you can have a better working relationship with.

At the end of the day, I’m actually grateful that I lost this client. I think I will be happier, and he will be happier. But I do plan to do my best to learn from it, and go over my agreement and see if there are way’s I can simplify things. In fact, I’ve already thought of one or two.

1. Remove the details of payment options from my agreement. Those options are detailed on the invoices I send, so i can simplify the description on my agreement.

2. Remove “additional feature requests” from 100% hourly rate jobs since every request is an additional feature request. Additional feature requests apply to fixed rate jobs, not hourly jobs.