Have you ever had something out of your control end up costing you a contract?
I have, now.
In the last few days I have been battling a vicious cold, not man flu. A simple cold that has meant working from home to get a presentation finished for a client workshop so as not to pollute the air within the agency I have been working with for around three months. The agency head and I took the decision for me not to attend the workshop as, simply, I would not have been 100% and it could be tough being in the firing line from typically unreceptive and non-marketing oriented clients.
Then something I did not expect to happen, happened.
I received a call from the agency head the day after the workshop I had missed, both of us knowing that there would be future development work off the back of it that I would be leading. He advised me that he felt the two days I had missed through illness had reinvented the strategy behind the brand. In truth I hold no ill-feeing towards him or the agency, and he was extremely insightful and kind in his words about how he had found working with me 'delightful
' (best testimonial word ever) and that we had produced something great for the brand. The tough part was that it meant that a common cold could end up costing you a contract, and a four-figured sum.
I was gutted.
It was a body blow.
This was the first time in my freelance life that I had gotten ill, I've been lucky in that respect, but also the first time I had lost a contract mid-project. After readjusting my 'projected income' spreadsheet (and my bookings calendar), I spent the next couple of days writing blog posts and catching up on my business planning / building activities that had been out on the back burner due to being so busy. Then, as I noticed my calendar for the next month was income-light, I got a call from my favourite agency partner asking me to do some trend work over a weekend to help them land a huge new client pitch.
Just like that I was back in the game.
The trends were greatly received and I was asked to build and execute some client retail safaris the next week. My month was saved. If this had not happened however, I knew I was going to be ok, in fact I know I'm going to be ok even if I get no new freelance contracts for the next six months as I have built a backup fund to cover just this type of scenario. (Important new career advice, especially for freelancers: always plan for the unexpected income loss). This is crucial for all freelancers, the nature of our jobs, our businesses and our lives is that we are not always gainfully employed, it's part of the freedom and also the unfortunate gap in work that we trade for higher incomes through day rates instead of salaries.
How have you dealt with time our of work?
Has illness ever ended up costing you a contract?
What have you got set in place for when things do not go according to plan?