Posts Tagged ‘ideas’
Suspending projects, leaving customers unsupported, jetting off to somewhere warm, sunny and relaxing may be how holidays are supposed to be – but I always panic that as I fly off to the middle of nowhere, servers will crash, bugs will be uncovered and customers will need assistance which I am unable to provide.
Of course, disaster can be averted, and vacations can be turned into a more relaxing experience through some simple preparation.
Whilst this preparation will vary depending on the type of freelancing work you do, the number of existing customers you have, or number of projects on the go, some preparation activities will work for all freelancers.
My own check list of top twelve pre-vacation activities for restful and stress free holidays are as follows:
- Holidays over public holidays and weekends – Let’s start with the simple ones. Scheduling your vacations to include as many non-working days as possible not only means you are not wasting potential money earning working days, but also reduces the number of days when customers will need supporting. Of course, vacations over public holidays will cost a little more.
- Cut off of Work – I have a two week window before any overseas travel where I will not install software changes of any kind on any customer’s site. In the past, I have found that the bad-luck demons will happily sit back and watch that typo turn into a nasty data corruption bug, which of course will only be discovered 20 seconds after your plane takes off. Leaving a settle in period means any problems should have been discovered by customers before you leave.
- Have an Email Filter - You know all those emails you get with small business tips, blog posts, LinkedIn updates and the like, you don’t need them on holiday. Create a filter which automatically moves them to a holiday folder which you can review on your return. Also worth noting that the rules need to be in your core email store (such as exchange) rather than your email client (outlook) as otherwise the rules will not be applied.
- Have a email Check schedule – and agree this with your partner and friends that are traveling with you. Nothing will annoy your husband or wife more than them feeling like there are on holiday on their own as you always have your phone in your hands checking emails. Two email checks a day is a good compromise, and schedule those times based on the time difference between your holiday destination and your customers.
- Tell the customers – If your customers know you are a one-man-band freelancer, tell them when you are going to be away. Tell them as soon as you book your vacation, so everybody has plenty of time to prepare for the window of ‘no support activity’. Of course, if you are ‘pretending’ to be bigger than you are, tell them anyway, and direct them to a generic support or issues email address.
- Check you can get to the Internet – Don’t leave it to the last minute to check that you can get on the internet at your selected holiday location. Can you access internet via hotel WiFi, via your mobile phone operator – and what will be the speeds and costs involved? Most hotels have a web site these days, and most will indicate what ‘business’ facilities are available. If there are problems, have a backup plan ready before you fly.
- Arrange external support? – If you are supporting important projects or customers, it is always worth speaking to other friendly freelancers to see if they will help support your customers whilst you are away getting a tan. This will need some serious preparation time in terms of technical knowledge transfer, setting up access to the project files, access to the customer files, and of course contracts between you and them. Such agreements do not necessarily need to be for money (you can arrange a situation where they cover you, and in return you cover them), but generally, paying them for their time can be money well spent if it means you can relax on holiday.
- Make key files accessible – Just in case you do end up getting dragged into a support or question-answering situation, it is well worth making sure key files for key customers are to hand and in a format that is usable. For making files accessible, nothing beats cloud storage such as dropbox (which allows access via browser or mobile phone). Just remember that you need them in a format that you can view without a full computer (unless you are taking your laptop). It is no good having your SQL server database backed up to dropbox if you don’t have a server to load the data onto – better to have the table formats and scripts exported into a text file that you can read on a text viewer (same goes for application source files, graphics files (you wont have photoshop available), etc). Also, if in doubt – push all customer files to the cloud as it’s the ones you don’t have access to that you will undoubtedly need.
- Look for common problems – Another good exercise prior to leaving for vacation is to review your old customer support issues and look for common problems. For my customers, the same problems crop up over and over again (forgotten passwords, query on the movements of data through a data system, etc). A lot of pain can be eased by creating a quick ‘how to overcome or answer your most common questions’ crib sheet which you send out before you fly.
- Remote Project Management – For me, there is no better feeling than having a project start off as I fly out to holiday – and knowing that some poor freelancer I have subcontracted to is working hard whilst I drink frozen cocktails by the pool. If you have a cloud based project management system (see below), this can make staying up to speed a breeze.
- Remote issue logging system – As discussed, having a central support email address for incoming issues is good, but having a cloud based issue logging and resolution system is so much better. Your customers will feel more in control, and you (or your friendly supporting freelancer friend) can respond to and resolve issues via an internet connection.
- Possible Remote solutions – The final option is to see if you can organise a remote support situation. I give more details on my particular solution below.
Remote Project Management
One of the cloud based tools that I have been using for the past couple of years has been the TeamworkPM project management system. Having a project system which controls work flow, and that myself, my customers and (in some cases) my outsourced developers can see has been a gods-send.
I am even happier now that I have found that Teamwork PM have mobile phone based applications which run on both Android and iOS based mobile phones. A great tool is now even better – allowing me to track progress on projects, update statuses, chase for progress and keep track of projects whilst I am traveling or enjoying a break with the minimum of fuss and the minimum of data bandwidth (which saves a lot of time and cost when on a roaming data plan).
Using Teamwork and the mobile based client, I am able to keep working whilst sipping a drink, and the project continues along without me – keeping all my customers very happy.
My own Remote Support Solution
In terms of my own remote support system, I recognised that for me, a lot of my support questions came about regarding the data that is held on my customer databases (generally Oracle or SQL Server). Therefore, to aid in remote support, I invested a day and developed myself a remote support system.
The system comprises of two parts:
1) I developed a web form on my own internet server (where I host my business web site) which presents me with a text entry window and a drop down list of my customers. In this window, I can type some freehand SQL script (or pick from a set of 12 common queries), and select a customer. The customer code and the SQL script is then written to a file on my web server
2) I also developed a customer end service, which runs on each customer site (in the background) once an hour, and reads the text file from my web site. If the customer code is the code of the site, and the save time is within the last hour (to stop duplicate runs) it connects to the product database, runs the script, gets the results into an HTML grid table, and emails me the results
It’s crude, quick and nasty – but is very effective.
When a customer logs a support call saying that they need to know why something has happened, I can bring up my web form on my phone, and type in my SQL command (“select * from audit where data = ‘the problem code”). Then I go off and get a drink. One or Two hours later, I get a response email back from the customers database server with an HTML formatted set of the results, as if I was dialed into their computer.
In my leisure, I can look at the data on my phone display, and using my cloud based customer support form, quickly type a response. If needed, the SQL script that I send to be run can be an update (to sort out data), a select on a database object (to view a stored procedure) or can even reboot a server. All from my sandy beach location on holiday.
Whilst my solution is designed to work on client databases, maybe a similar solution will work for you to get web details, page files, documents, or whatever else your freelance business deals with for customers?
If you have never used Google Alerts, it allows you to define a Google search term, and whenever new web pages or sites are created which match your search criteria, Google sends you an email with a summary and link of the new web pages that Google has just added.
If you have never used Google Alerts before, they are well worth playing around with. You just register as a Google user, set up an alert, and say how often new results should be sent to you (most of my alerts are set to be daily). But even if you are a long term user of the service, here are:
10 Google Alerts a Freelancer, Contractor or Small Business should be setting up now:
- Your company name – Get notifications when ever anybody mentions, references or talks about your company.
- Your own name – For the same reason as your company name, but know when they are talking about you personally
- Your land and mobile numbers – Useful to know if your numbers are listed in any directory based service
- Your email address – Not only will you know if you are personally referenced, but also know if your email address is made available on a spam list (which are sometimes published on the web)
- Your post/zip code – To find out what’s going on in your neighborhood
- Your industry (i.e, Freelancing) followed by ” major news”, “import news” and “major changes for ” – Keep up to date with the industry news
- “New mentoring group” for . . . – refine for your geographic location to find mentoring groups when they are set up or hold events (if you need a business mentor)
- Your competitors company name – If you know of multiple companies that do the same thing, keep an eye on what they are doing in terms of marketing, sales, news, products etc – useful for new ideas.
- Your co-working freelancers company names – the same as above
- Your dream and hobby subjects – Be if for travel, photography, fashion or food, there is life outside of work. Keep up to date on new sites and news.
A quick one from me on a internet service I have just discovered – Meetup.com
If you have an interest (be it a hobby, interest, desire, need or even a business aspiration), there will be a group of people out there in your local area who meet on a regular basis to explore and share that interest.
Meetup.com is a free service which allows you to connect to these groups, and attend the meet-ups for a nominal administration charge (typically £1 to £2 per event).
For personal activities, I attend interesting photography events (I have a passion for photography, and the meetups are always at great locations with great subjects) and personal growth events. But I also attend London based business mentoring meet ups as well, where small business owners give each over advice, review each others plans, and allow people to sanity check their ideas.
If you are into business networking, there will also be multiple networking groups in your local area as well.
Meetup allows you to search in your area (or any other specific areas) and you can set a geographical range for meet-ups.
Once you have identified interesting groups, you can join groups to take part in on-line discussions and to be notified of new face to face meet-ups. If a meetup strikes your interest, just RSVP and you will be sent details of the event by email.
As I say, a very useful resource for finding other business (or personal interest) groups for…. as the name suggests…. meeting up.
Let me kick off this brief discussion about the KISS system with one basic fact….
The more Complex Something is, the more likely it is that it will fail
Now let me expand on this with an example….
Let’s assume you have been tasked to design a prison. This prison will hold just one inmate – for life. So let’s start with the most basic of prison ideas.
You build a prison made up of four walls – the walls are 20 feet tall and 3 foot thick, with no windows or doors. Into this walled box, you put the prisoner. With no tools available – the chances of escape are very slim (other than somebody landing a helicopter in the prison or throwing a rope over the wall). Its simple – it works – it’s almost escape proof.
But, you need to feed the prisoner, and give them a view – so you build a door and a couple of windows. Now, they have a means of escape – the doors and windows become ‘weak points’.
So to compensate, you make it even more complex – now you have to place guards at the doors and windows, and complex locks. But by making it more complex, so it becomes easier to escape – there are more options. Locks can be picked, guards can be bribed.
So the cycle of making things more complex grows, until you have a system so complex that you have introduced 100 ways to escape, and another 100 ways to protect the 100 soft points.
The KISS principle in Business
Software for instance grows to be so complex with so many wiz-bang features that a program can end up with millions of lines of code, and millions of possible bugs. Whenever a change is required, all of the actions of the software have to be considered to see what any changes will break – and things can easily be forgotten. Which is why there are never ending patches in Windows and Microsoft Office Products.
Sometimes it’s too easy to get wrapped up with having the most features, buttons, menus, options, configurations, colours, languages, and choices. But this means more time and cost for design, development and maintenance – and more problems for you and your customers.
So maybe, keeping things simple (at least to start with) is a design and sales tactic worth considering in your next project.
For me, I love reading blogs by other freelancers, marketers and small business owners. Some can lead to advice and ideas which I can directly link to growing my business. But whilst I like reading blogs, I never let the blogs get in the way of my normal day job. Reading blogs for me is an activity reserved for when I am waiting in a queue, or on a train or erm, busy in the smallest room.
I also find myself reading a blog, understanding what the author is trying to say, thinking to myself that “that sounds like a reasonable idea” but never acting on it. I must have read hundreds of posts which caused me to take no action (for whatever reason). I am sure you are the same.
Well, rather than waste any more of your time, can I present to you a list of some of my action suggestions?
Any one of these actions (and associated posts) cover changes I have made in my own business. Each and every one of the suggested actions has grown my revenue, customer base and profits.
Pick one or try them all – I promise all will boost your business.
Ditch your accountant and go Cloud Based I wasted so much money on my accountant that in hindsight it scares me. Since moving to a cloud based accounts system, I have more control, more visibility, and I am saving so much money.
Get Your Terms and Conditions in Order. I know it does not sound sexy, but I know that having a straight forward, short but good set of T&Cs has landed me business whilst boosting my own business protection.
Be Bold, and Ask for the Business. I am a strong believer in asking for what you want (after all, nobody is a mind reader). I have won a lot of business simply by asking for it.
Set Goals. Your business needs goals in order to give it direction and something to aim for. Setting ambitious business goals has really helped me move forward
Reuse your previous work. This is one of my best tips for generating more revenue (cash) each and every day. Try it – you will be amazed!
Add communication and Control through Cloud Project Management. I have been using a cloud based project management system for the past 2 years and it has saved me so much time, effort and money. And my customers love the visibility it gives them. Perfect!
Streamline reading blogs and other content. I have moved reading content onto my mobile devices – and it means I can squeeze more productive time into the day. Free and Easy.
Keep the cash flow by Chasing Customers. My accounts system automatically chases overdue invoices with different levels of warning – which means I no longer have cash flow worries.
Offer a Bonus. And as my bonus suggestion, I recommend any serious Freelancer or Small Business Owner read The Wealth Freelancer – its packed with a whole lot more useful ideas for growth.
Whilst we are all cutting back this year (as the world teeters on the edge of yet another financial meltdown), Christmas still brings the awful few weeks of worrying about what to buy people. What do they need, what do they want, what will not make us look like a Scrooge?
As a contractor, freelancer or small business owner, we have the advantage of needing gifts that can work both for us, and for our businesses. So if you are fed up with yet more socks, bath salts or wall calendars, can I suggest a business Christmas list which you may like to consider and pass on to those stuck for something to buy you?
- Business Books – A little boring, but some can be very useful. Ones I suggest include the Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book, The ultimate Guide to Google Adwords and The Wealthy Freelancer.
- Tablet Computer – If you don’t own one, a tablet can be very useful. And tablets are coming down in price all the time (you can get tablets for just over £100). If you don’t yet have one, it will revolutionise your world.
- A scanner – you can do away with all that paperwork and keep electronic files as described here. Scanners can be purchased from as little as £30.
- A day at a spa – We all need a break from the day to day grind. A day of relaxation can be used to rest, relax, recharge and most importantly, plan next year’s activities. Spa days can be expensive, but a ‘trail’ day can be as little as £30.
- Stamps – Again, seems boring but… a) They won’t devalue, b) Purchased now they will be worth more when postage costs go up in the new year (in both the UA and UK), c) They are always needed and d) Can start you off with a new year mail shot campaign. Much better than gift tokens.
- An extra monitor – If you use your computer a lot and you still only have 1 (or 2) monitor, an extra monitor will increase your efficiency. Monitors can start from just £60.
- A better chair – If you spend a lot of time sitting and working, a good chair can make all the difference. Chairs don’t have to be expensive, but avoid the ‘make it yourself’ variety as sold by Staples as these will be uncomfortable after an hour or so.
- An e-book Reader – one of the modern ebook readers (such as the Amazon Kindle) is perfect for catching up on your reading, whether it is novels, business books or blogs.
- A Love Film or Netflix subscription – DVD disks are becoming a little passé. A much better option is the gift of a LoveFilm (UK) or Netflix (UK or USA) subscription which can allow rental of movies or streaming to your home. Use it to catch up on movies which will motivate you to new business heights.
- A portable phone charger - our mobile devices are the communication hubs of our businesses, so to have one low on power is a disaster. With a cheap portable battery pack, a dead phone is never now a problem.
Yesterday I talked about sending quotations to customers in PDF format. Following this blog post, I received a couple of emails asking for a suggestion on how to generate PDF documents without the need to purchase the rather expensive Adobe Acrobat writer software (which costs between $500 and $1,500 depending on your intended use).
I am a big fan of the Cute range of products (including CuteFTP). One of their products is CutePDF, and is a FREE print to PDF driver for windows. If you use an application that can print, installing CutePDF will allow you to print directly to PDF documents – it’s how I generate all my quotations, specifications, etc.
CutePDF does have a paid version with more functionality (add watermark, protect documents, merge PDF documents etc). However, the free version provides all the functionality you need to generate good looking PDF documents.
Its Recommended, and its Free!!
If somebody asked you to define your ideal (or target) customer, could you do it? Have you even given it any thought, or is it one of those business concepts which are there for the big boys, and you are really looking for anybody, anywhere, that has money to spend and needs your service or product?
The reason I ask, is that earlier in the year, I had to define my ideal customer – for a number of marketing activities, and it was a difficult exercise for me. I provide IT database software services to companies with… well…. databases. Should that not do? Does that not cover it (I asked)? Actually, no – it turns out that being vague is one of the worst answers. Without defining the target, how could I hope to know my customers when they come along, or hope to get my message across to the right people.
Take for instance, the concept of location. That’s a fairly easy one I guess for most people. They will say that their target customer is say, in their own country, or if you are completely virtual -anywhere in the world. But let’s think about this. If it’s anywhere in the world, do you want to deal with people in countries that can’t speak English? And what happens if it all goes wrong? Do you really want to travel around the world to sort out a problem for a few hundred pounds of sale value?
So I started to get specific. I realised that because 90% of the time I have to meet the customer at some time, I didn’t really want to travel to Scotland, or Wales, or Ireland, or even spend 7 hours travelling too far north for a prospect sales meeting. So I worked out that for me, my ideal customer lived within 127 mile radius from my home office. I know that sounds specific – and it is. 127 miles from me, is 2 miles off of the French coast, yet includes major UK cities – London, Bristol, Birmingham, Southampton etc. 127 miles can be travelled in a couple of hours. If I said 130 miles, I would be getting prospects in Northern France, if I said 120 miles, I cut off half of Bristol and Birmingham.
Once I had this concept sorted, the rest fell into place. Other categories which I then defined were:
- Language – English speaking
- Company Size – over 30 people, but less than 200 (don’t want to waste time on small SME’s with little budget, nor go for the bigger companies that the big consultancy companies target)
- Industry – Private sector or NHS (my services don’t work for charities, or government offices, etc)
- Turnover – from £100,000 up to £5m – again see the company size logic
- Type of person I need to speak to – IT manager, information manager, Development Manager, CEO or MD
- Working Hours – Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm (don’t want to be working for companies that only operate at weekends, or out of hours)
- Requirements – Must use databases such as SQL Server or Oracle, maybe smaller databases like access, Informix or DB2
I could go on, but suffice to say that by defining as many categories as I could, and then refining them down as much as possible, when my ideal customer appears I know them and know that I can work with them.
Now it could be argued that by creating restrictions (such as location) I am reducing the number of potential customers, but then do I really want to travel 600 miles to Scotland or Ireland to try and sell my services, when there is a person 40 miles from the prospect who has a better chance of the sale and less costs to service them?
Tomorrow, I will talk about how I used the above information for land £10,000’s of revenue for less than a £100 investment.
If you haven’t spend the time to define your ideal or target customer, take 10 minutes and define them now. I promise, it’s worth the effort.
As the Christmas adverts start to appear on TV, the shops fill with tinsel, and Band Aid (do they know it’s Christmas) is playing in every shop you enter, it’s hard not to stop and scream ‘You do know there is still two months to go don’t you?!?!?!?’. But all of these do remind us that Christmas is just around the corner. And as we move into the winter months, the big question is not ‘Will it snow as much as last year’ but more…. If it does, what will you do about it?!?
Last year’s snow caused chaos! Cars were stuck in drifts or unable to move from driveways, railways ground to a halt, flights were cancelled and for a few weeks, the country ground to a halt. This is of course great if you work for somebody else, a few days stuck at home building snowmen with the family is great fun, but when the missed work means loss of revenue for you personally, it’s not so great. So what plans have you made for this year’s disruption?
But whilst making those plans, why not take a few more steps. Snow is seasonal – it may affect us for a week or two. So whilst making those snow plans, why not see if there are other ‘just in case’ plans for your business which you can put in place.
A good starting list for thinking about includes:
So let’s start with the snow plans. As I predict it’s going to be bad again like last year, I am going to be stocking up early with salt and sand bags to keep in the garage just in case. Last year’s snow meant shops ran out in record quick time, so just now – whilst its plentiful and cheap, half a dozen bags can be stored in the garage (it doesn’t go off, so can sit there for years until its needed). But better than that, I have worked my schedule so during most of December and January I will be working from home, so no travelling for me. What about you – can you change your schedules to remove the need to travel?
None of us like the idea of falling ill. Of course, the odd bought of flu or cold will always happen – but what happens if things are more serious? A broken leg, a broken arm, or something worse? If you don’t have any plans in place yet, it may be worth looking at private health cover to get you on your feet as soon as possible (you don’t want to be stuck in an 18 week NHS wait queue), and of course critical illness insurance cover for the lost revenue when you are not working. But please have somebody with some experience read the critical illness contract as some do not cover freelancers, contractors or the self employed.
Prevention is better than cure, so are you doing anything to maintain your level of fitness and health. For most small business owners, they are their own most important asset, so is there anything you can do to stay fit, happy and healthy. Memberships to gyms can be paid for by your company (although it is a taxable perk), so it may be time to get yourself into shape and protect your investments.
Loss of Assets Plans
What happens if you lost an asset you need for your business? What happens if you crash your car (is there a spare car you can use to get to those meetings, do you have the number of a rental company to hand)? What about computers? Please tell me that you have the data backed up somewhere and you take backups on regular occasions (daily or weekly minimum). What are the important assets for your business, and what are your backup plans for those assets? Think about computers, printers, mobile phones, cars, offices, your house and of course your business data.
Loss of Resource Plans
Now what about resource that is no longer available – can you create a backup plan for that? It’s useful to keep a handful of freelancers or contractor contact details to hand that you can call on when resource is needed. This includes a backup plan for yourself – you never know when a family member will need your help or you have to drop everything to help somebody out – who can you pass your work onto in an emergency?
Loss of Internet Plans
For most small businesses, the internet is one of the heaviest forms of technology that they use. But internet connections do go down, telephone lines do get accidently cut by engineers working on roads, exchanges do sometimes catch fire. What are your backup plans for loss of the internet? Is there a list of internet cafes you can use in an emergency? Is there a way of getting hold of the emails that normally go to your phone or exchange server?
General Backup Plans
Then of course there are the general backup plans, plans that cover a wide range of options. These may include call answering services (to take the calls when you can’t), communication options such as skype (for when communication is an issue or you cannot move), online presentation systems, online storage and backup (such as dropbox) for keeping copies of work.
Clearly, none of us wants anything bad to happen. But some things (like snow) are more likely than others and having a backup plan means that when the unfortunate does occur, you are not left scrabbling around – you have a plan and you know what you are doing.
You want a solution developed? You can have it delivered quickly, you can have it delivered cheap, and you can have it work without problems. But you can only pick 2 of the 3.
Source of Quote: Unknown.
Over the last few months, I have been actively looking to grow my small business using a lot of the techniques previously detailed in this blog. I did this because I could see things drying up, so wanted to make sure there was work for the future. Unfortunately for me, the work didn’t in fact dry up, and I generated more work with the result that I now find my company with too much work to do.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very nice position to be in, but at the same time, it can be stressful with so much to do, so little time, and so many expectations set. Many freelancers and small businesses live in a cycle of famine or feast; periods of time with either too little work or too much.
So what can be done to smooth over the work bumps and create a more balanced schedule?
The Lead Time Tactic
Have you ever wondered why when you purchase goods, some say “Allow 28 days for delivery”? It’s because the seller does not actually have the goods you want, so you pay and they make (or buy in) to order, which has a lead time. The same trick is used by big companies who detail in their quotes for work standard lead time to development start (i.e, “Any quotes accepted have a current lead time to start of 9 weeks”). Giving a lead time can set an expectation. The advantage is that everybody knows where they stand (and you can always do it earlier if you have slack time), but the disadvantage is that if the customer really wants it now, they may go elsewhere.
Sometimes, being honest can be the right approach. To say something like “I would really like to work on this project, I am just finishing something else, but give me 4 or 5 weeks to wrap this up and I will get started” has the same advantages and disadvantages as the Lead Time Tactic. However being honest may mean you can sleep better at night.
Outsource or Extra Resource
Where you are overworked and the customer can’t or won’t wait, it may be worth looking at outsourcing or hiring temporary extra staff. Yes, this has a cost, but as long as the cost of the staff is below the cost to the customer, its still profit and far better than a lost sale.
You may be tempted to reduce the quality of the delivery to reduce development/production times and so reduce the amount of time you need to spend on a project. This can be a risky option if the end delivery is unacceptable to the customer, not fit for purpose, or at the end of the day the customer won’t pay.
A middle ground between the lead time and the lower quality is a phased delivery. By breaking the project into stages, and putting a slightly exaggerated customer review phase between phases (review, beta testing, etc), it allows you to phase the project over a longer time period whilst still delivering chunks to the customer. This can also have the advantage of appearing to follow a good practice of alpha, beta and final releases of a delivery for customer approval/feedback at each phase.
Burning the Midnight Oil
Of course, you may prefer to try to do it all by working all hours on as many projects as you can, or working extended days to complete projects as quickly as possible. Whilst this may work for short bursts of time, it is ultimately unsustainable in terms of personal health, relationships and quality of deliveries.
Discounts for Delayed Starts
Whilst customers generally come to you because there is a demand for your services NOW, they may be tempted to delay the start and delivery of the completed products for a discounted day or project rate. Whilst the discount needs to be sufficient to be tempting for the customer, and it of course means less cash for your company, it does mean that you have better control of the scheduling of work.