Should you choose a small client or a big client for your work? The answer isn’t always as simple as you’d think.
Money isn’t the only factor when dealing with projects. Happiness matters.
So, do you want to help a bunch of little fish get big or help out the fish who’s already the king of the sea? Here’s a breakdown of the major factors between each type of client
The little guy: Smaller clients like to be hands on and have an open line of communication. This can be slightly burdensome when they want to be updated on the progress of the project all the time. However, it also gives you a reference point for what the client wants so you’re not second-guessing as you work.
The big guy: On your weekly meeting they will want to see all of the updates they told you about last week and have them done to perfection. With such a time gap between contact there is little room for minor changes or errors to take place on either end.
The little guy: They probably don’t have their brand identity set in stone yet. Even if they do, there is a lot of flexibility in the direction they want to take the company. It’s still a game of figuring out what works and what doesn’t, so they let you come up with creative solutions to their needs.
The big guy: The brand is set. Hundreds of documents have gone out with their logo, tagline, messaging, colors, and tone attached. Their image is polished to perfection. All you have to do is follow exactly what they have been doing for years, but with your own twist. Everything they’ve been putting out there has some grounding in the company’s image and your stuff better match it.
The little guy: You don’t always have to be right on time for the little guy. Sometimes you can be done ahead of time and bring the deadline up. Other times you can be a little bit late (because they often are) with your work and it won’t be a huge deal. The chain of command is limited so the deadlines aren’t as fixed. I’d still recommend you never be the reason anything is late, though.
The big guy: When they give you a deadline there is no changing it. Every person in the chain of command is pushing for that deadline. If a single link breaks, someone gets in big trouble. Rarely is there any flexibility in a deadline since everyone is making sure their end gets done by then. Again, don’t be the reason anything is late. Ever.
The little guy: If it is a small company but is well funded there might be a bit more money that comes your way. Otherwise, a lot of projects get the shaft financially for companies that are still short-sighted.
The big guy: The bigger the company, the more money they have to spend on you. Making your work worth their money is your job. Big clients who know how things have worked in the past know what they are worth. They will not only put more money into a project, but they will also make sure it comes through.
The little guy: Your work has to be awesome and unique to get a lot of exposure. It has to have a lot of promotion behind it, whether viral or otherwise. The likelihood of a this is based solely on the execution of the product.
The big guy: Whether it’s awesome or it sucks, people are going to know about it. Just look at any of the terrible movies that come out of Hollywood. The promotion behind movies is huge. Even “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause” was hyped enough that people would know about the awful Tim Allen as Santa Clause sequel. If there’s enough money backing it, there will be a lot of exposure.
The little guy: They will pat you on the back, thank you in person, even remember your name attached to the project. They know you did it and you did a great job.
The big guy: To them you are just a member of the team. A contributor. No matter how big or little your part is, to them you did an equal amount of work to anyone else who was in the process of creating the final product. Sometimes you will get no recognition at all besides your paycheck. Other times, if your exposure is good enough, other people will see it was your handiwork and request you for other projects.
People telling you what to do
The little guy: There are usually a couple of people contributing to the idea behind the project. Sometimes there are a few more contributing to the execution. Besides these key people, there are rarely people that are not attached to the project whose opinions have any weight.
The big guy: The chain of command is long. The board who elected a president who appointed a team of people who delegated a group to deal with the communication of the project to the two creatives who are now dealing with you all have a say. Every time a change is made it has to be approved higher and higher up. It may get frustrating when one person in the whole chain wants to make a change and it takes a long time before the kinks are ironed out.
The little guy: Their resources are limited. The amount of guidance and information about their company is not as extensive as it could be. Instead, they are looking for fresh new ideas from you to help their company grow.
The big guy: There is a history of the company. Photos of things that have happened. Branches that can get you what you need. Anything that is not “in your department” is in some other department, and they will get it to you as soon as they can. While this is very helpful, it makes you seem like a cog in the big machine.
The little guy: Time is of the essence. The faster you move the faster they can keep growing. Their revenue depends on your success and their incorporation of your work.
The big guy: They know when things will get done and want them done by then. Things can (and for the most part will) move slower for big companies because there is so much that needs to change. They have plenty of other projects making them money so it’s not crucial to get your project done as fast as possible. Instead, they are focused on getting things done as flawless as possible.
You can decide for yourself what kind of client you want working for you or who you want to be working for. Just remember that the best work and the best ideas can come from anywhere.Now go own the world.
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