As a computer contractor, do you often wonder what to expect from new clients when you start a new major it project

As a computer contractor, do you often wonder what to expect from new clients when you start a new major IT project?

Before you get started, take time to ask about and understand the responsibilities your clients will take when it comes to helping you manage their computers and systems. The truth is, sometimes what you expect your clients to do to help will not be what your clients will be willing … or even able to do.

As you approach a client you really need to know first and foremost that, particularly in the small business space, you are dealing with a non-technical business owner. Your client will not understand the latest, greatest bleeding-edge technology and will often not even understand his/her own IT assets at all. Your job as their computer contractor will be to increase their understanding and efficiency so your clients can better run their businesses.

No matter what, you need to understand the different types of small business owners you will encounter and what your role will be with each. The following 4 pieces of advice can help you work more efficiently on major IT projects with new clients.

  1. Understand the “Hands-On” Small Business Client. As a computer contractor, you might come across a small business client that wants to take a very active role in their major project. This type of person will listen intently on your every word, will read and re-read your written documents about deliverables multiple times, and have some well thought-out questions waiting for you at each and every meeting. This type of client will be a pleasure … but don’t expect most small business owners you meet to have this hands-on philosophy.
  2. Be Prepared for the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Small Business Client. At the other extreme, you might find other clients that don’t want to know any details about what you are doing to help them with their IT systems. Whether their philosophy is fueled by them feeling overwhelmed by technical details, or just the result of them being too busy running other aspects of their business to deal with IT issues, they will expect their computer contractor to just make systems work with their businesses. Because these small business owners will want to take a totally hands-off approach and tell you, “Just send me the bill,” you need to tread very carefully. Can you really develop a mutually-beneficial relationship with someone that wants you to work this way?
  3. Aim for the “Just Right” Client. Almost like the Goldilocks client, most small business owners will want to take on a role that is somewhere in between completely hands on and totally uninvolved. They will want a computer contractor to tell them what is going on and learn about technology issues to a certain degree. But they recognize that certain tasks are best left to the experts. Because these clients will sometimes be neither here nor there, make sure they are aware of what you are expecting from them in the relationship besides a prompt payment, so your solutions can have maximum impact and really work to solve their biggest business problems.
  4. Establish a Single Point of Contact. No matter which type of client a small business owner is, one of your biggest responsibilities as a computer contractor is making sure you designate a single point of contact at your client site. Once you get deep into a big IT project, you will not have the luxury of being able to solicit everyone’s opinion. You need a go between to avoid the “too many cooks” syndrome. Once you settle on a main contact person, stick to taking all your orders from this person at all costs. To solidify relationships even further, you might also consider contractually obligating your small business clients to designate a single point of contact. Without a designated single point of contact, you run a major risk of getting conflicting and often contradictory instructions from different people at your client site.

In this brief article we discussed 4 pieces of advice that can help you manage your relationships with small business clients. Learn more about how you can attract great, steady, high-paying clients as a computer contractor now at

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