How To Start With Your First Clients

Written by Tammy Durden

Your first clients as an online service provider can be intimidating but don’t worry I’m confident you will settle into it quickly. Until then I have some helpful tips on how to start with your first clients as you begin to work with them. It is best to be prepared even if you do not yet have clients.

“Often when deciding to start a business it is easy to become panicked or overwhelmed once the decision is made, because there are so many details and items to complete.”  

-Fearless Business Boss Blog

The initial steps to working with your first clients should involve a few key items.  Below are the basic items needed to be in place. You will want to add these to your onboarding processes so you know how and where to start with your new clients.

  1. Welcome Email
  2. Contract
  3. Intake Form

Next, let’s discuss your entire Welcome Packet which the items mentioned above.

The first thing, after your initial meeting and that client says, “Yes” to you is the welcome email. A welcome email can be as simple as thanking them for choosing you and the next steps to onboarding. Always prepare the client to what to watch for and what is necessary to onboard with you.

“Welcome to ________________ (type of services you provide) with [Insert your company name]. We are excited to partner with you to help you ___________________________ (again services put differently).”

Below is a list of items included in this packet

  1. The Contract
  2. Your Client Intake Form
  3. Checklist of items to return
  4. My digital business card

I added at the bottom of the welcome email: “Also please make a note of my cell (Enter your # if want to include) should you wish to text or are unable to reach me on our office number. [Add a copy of your digital business card below]”

The Contract, of course, lays out the terms of the agreement. It also describes the scope of work (details of what you will provide). Some great contract samples are given on the website Crunch.

I highly encourage you to have a lawyer review your first clients’ contract(s) you prepare. If you cannot afford a lawyer another good option is LegalShield.  They review their member contracts as well as handle other legal things that may come up.

When you are already overwhelmed and stressed it seems to take more time, but it is worth it. Pay attention to ‘what’ specific services (your scope of work) and ‘how’ you will provide these services (your general processes) to someone else.

Always include your fee(s) for the services you are providing to your first clients. Specify the fee for each type of service. For instance, if you provide both email marketing and social media management break these out into individual areas and fees, listing each separately.

There are always some clauses that should be included. A few of these may be:

  • Intellectual Property – noting any products produced while working on client work and paid for in full by the client is theirs (client’s).
  • Confidentiality – you agree to keep all work with clients confidential, especially proprietary information.
  • Indemnification (Liability Limitation) – stating you will not be responsible for any client damages or loss of work or profit by the client.

*These are very general terms related to the clauses in a contract.

You will also want to include the state you live in as being the state presiding over any court procedures between you and the client.

Whew, that was a lot to cover in contracts. This is why I always recommend seeking legal advice as I am not a lawyer and do not have any legal training.

I always included a checklist for clients to refer back to when they needed to return items to us. It could include a number of items, most notably the following:

  • Signed Contract Returned
  • Client Intake Form Completed
  • First Month’s Payment
  • All Media (photos, videos, logos, etc.) needed to perform services requested

I also requested that they include social media platform URLs and their website. Lastly, I noted that they would receive an invitation to their client portal (or perhaps an invitation to a project management system for you).

The Client Intake Form can be a simple form requesting information you will need to work with them as a client.  It may request things such as company name, mailing and physical addresses, website, phone, and other URL information that is relative to their brand, along with any other resources you need.

It can also be very complicated if you need much more information from your client. When I did digital marketing my client intake form was a minimum of 4 pages. I requested each social media platform URL (if you will be doing social media management) they were on, along with resources (not competitors) they followed (for curated content they liked) and more.  The more complete this form is the less back and forth will be needed in emails or phone calls.

Employee versus Employer relationship should also be made very clear in your contract. If you are in the United States you will want to visit the IRS website (IRS) to view the rules regarding the difference between an independent contractor (freelancer) and an employee.  Some clients may be required to obtain your Social Security Number or your EIN#. Some clients will provide you with a 1099 form at the end of the year. This must be reported on your tax filings.

If you live in another country please visit your government’s website regarding this topic so you are prepared.

SCORE is another great resource to help you understand the difference between a contracted freelancer and an employee.  This organization also assists businesses and startups by providing meetings and relevant online webinars (including one on ‘Scale Your Business Through Outsourcing‘ that I presented). They also provide mentors to help businesses succeed.  

If all of this has totally confused you, feel free to book a free mini session with me, Tammy. I’d be happy to help.

I also provide Business Coaching Services for Startups, Growing, or Scaling Online Service Businesses. Please Book A FREE Mini Session and see if we would work well together.

with love from Tammy Durden of Fearless Business Boss

I always recommend seeking legal advice as I am not a lawyer and do not have any legal training.

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