My father was a gentle man who understood people. He had an ability to immediately sense who was good, who was trouble, and who to “be careful” with. And he always encouraged me to follow my instincts. He was right, and I only wish I had followed his advice a little more closely recently. I’ve instead learned two lessons, both people- and business-related.
First, if you’ve had prior dealings with someone and they weren’t positive, don’t have more. An attorney came to me for some technological services. I had been involved in a case with him a few years ago; his client was reprehensible, but so were some of his actions. He convinced me at our meeting that what happened then was an isolated incident. My gut said no, but I still took the job. Guess what? My gut was correct, and he acted no differently with me now compared with his conduct years ago. I have terminated our relationship — quickly.
Second, follow your instincts, not the clients. Another client came to me for technology consulting. This person was adamant about the person’s tech skills, and I made training recommendations based upon that representation, rather than my experience. When the person didn’t learn everything as quickly as my underestimate, I became a villain. Bottom line — if you know something should take X hours, and a client insists that he or she can do it in less, continue to estimate based upon what has been historically correct, not what the clent says. If you complete the project or training early, great. You’ll be thrilled and so will the client. On the other, if you don’t meet the expectations you set based on the client’s representation, you lose, and you lose a client. And if the client is particularly vocal, you lose even more.