What’s Coming Your Way in 2018 + How to Handle Contract Revision Requests From Potential Clients – Transcript

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[Intro Music] This is Office Talk with Annette Stepanian.


Happy New Year you guys. Welcome back to the Office Talk Podcast. I am beyond excited to start the new year. In fact, I wasn’t really planning on getting back to work as early as I did. But hey, January 2 rolled around, I was like, I am ready to rumble. So hopefully you are starting the new year with the same level of enthusiasm, and are running full speed ahead towards your dreams and your goals.

Now, you might be surprised to hear me because it’s been a while since I’ve recorded a solo episode. I gotta be honest with you. At the end of last year, I was pretty burned out when it came to the podcast and creating new content and new episodes for you guys. And so I just decided, I’m gonna take a few episodes off. You know, we continued with the interview episodes. But when it came to these legal quickies, I gave myself permission to not produce an episode each week. And I’m not gonna lie, it was a little scary at first because I thought everybody’s so used to getting it every week. What’s going to happen? And I, you know, I just thought, hey, if I don’t have the energy, if I don’t have the enthusiasm at the moment, I am not serving anybody by putting out a new episode. And so I gave myself permission to not produce those shows.

Hopefully, you guys as you embark on a new year, are letting go of some of those things that just aren’t serving you, that aren’t lighting you up, that maybe just feel like a complete drain. Because I promise you this – your business is not going to stop. Okay, so the things that you have made up for yourself as I have to do, and you’re just not feeling it, let it go.

Just this past weekend, I was at a yoga class, it was kind of a cool one. We got to use those headphones those what are they called the silent disco headphones. So you can’t hear anybody else but the instructor and the music. But one of the things she said was leave behind what doesn’t work for you. And I should go to yoga more often because I get so many great life lessons when I take yoga. And so I want to give you guys the encouragement to leave behind what isn’t working for you in this new year. Okay.

So don’t worry, the podcast is not going anywhere. I still love, love, love the show. However, in the coming months, we’re not going to get an episode every week. Okay, you are going to hear from me twice a month. But my goal is to make these super action packed, super informative episodes. Because look, the reality is there’s so much freakin’ content out there, I don’t need to be cluttering your inbox. I don’t need to be cluttering your ears with more of it.

I don’t know how you guys plan out your years, what I do is at a very high level, I sketch out what I’m going to be doing each month, each quarter, I kind of have very like these placeholders. But I don’t really dive into a lot of detail. In fact, I usually can’t see beyond three to six months. This year, I could see up to six months. And so that’s what I have planned for. But I always leave wiggle room because I know things change as I try things. Some things might work, some things might not work. And so I want to give myself that flexibility to try new things and to to work with the feedback that I’m getting.

So here’s we can expect in the next few weeks or a few months. So like I said, we are going to scale back down on these podcast episodes. We have a library of great episodes. So if you’re new to the show, go on back and listen to some older episodes. The content is still excellent and totally relevant. But what you’re going to expect is you’re going to get two podcast episodes a month for me minimum. Sometimes I might want to do more. And if I feel like it, I am going to do it. Okay. But you can expect a minimum of two episodes. What are these episodes going to look like? Okay, I am going to come in and I am going to do some hardcore teaching. Things that I think you need to know.

Outside of the podcast, I am bringing back my live webinars. You guys, I haven’t done a live webinar since I think about July. The second half of last year was super busy for me on a personal level. So I haven’t had the opportunity to sit down and connect with you guys on that platform. And so we’re doing more live webinars. I mean, I’m going to be doing webinars up the wazoo. If you have not sat in on my webinars, or maybe you have and you just missed me and you want to come again, head on over to my website at yourlegalbff.com. And there you’ll find all the information about how you can sign up for a future webinar. And they’re going to be happening and they’re going to be happening fast, particularly for my event planners, my graphic designers, my web designers, my stationery designers, my photographers. I’ve got webinars in the queue for you. Now if there’s something else you want to learn, you can always contact me on the website and I’m more than happy to see if there’s enough interest, we can go ahead and put a webinar together on that topic. But that’s one of the big things you’re gonna see coming for me in 2018 – more live webinars.

Also, I am super-duper excited about this. In 2017, I realized I really wanted to do more live events, like in person events. And then I thought, you know, that really limits everybody. Because if you’re not close to me here in the Bay Area, it’s gonna really limit the number of people that can really participate in a live event like that. So I’m tabling that, and I might revisit that in the second half of the year. But for now, what I’m going to do is do a live online summit called Legal 360 Live. And I am so, so, so excited about this, because we are finally gonna get your legal house in order.

You guys, I know how confusing the law is, there seems to be no structure, you guys are some of the most thoughtful and sweetest business owners I’ve ever met. You guys sincerely want to do the right thing, when it comes to the law and setting up your business, you really want to make sure you’re not breaking the law, or you know, stepping on any toes. But it is overwhelming, right? So what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna come together in a live online summit, it’s gonna happen this spring. And what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna walk through everything that you need to know to either start or grow your business, the legal way. So if you want to be up to date, and learn all about when all of that is going to take place, get on the waiting list. And that’s available at yourlegalbff.com/live. That’s yourlegalbff.com/live. I really encourage you to sign up for the waiting list. I don’t want you to miss out on any of those details.

Now, if you haven’t checked out the website in a while, head on over there, because there have been a few updates. I’ve updated it, it looks I think, pretty snazzy if I do say so myself. But most importantly, you’re gonna see this cool little nifty drop down menu in the navigation bar that allows you to search for content based on what industry you’re in. Now, you might be noticing that I keep saying yourlegalbff.com. Well, annettestepanian.com has not gone anywhere. Essentially, I know my last name is super hard to spell. So I want to make it a whole lot easier for you guys to find all that great content.

Okay. Now, with that said, I want to dive into this week’s frequently asked question. And I can’t believe I haven’t done an episode on this because I get asked this question so much, especially on other podcast interviews, or if I’m doing a speaking engagement, and I get a question from the audience. And so I thought it is time for me to answer this question. And the question is:  what should I do when my prospective client comes back with contract changes to the contract that I have sent them? Here’s a scenario, you have a potential client who has come to you. They’re interested in your service. You send over your contract, and they come back with revision requests. What do you do?

The answer is going to be… Dun, dun, dun. It depends. There is no black and white formulaic answer here. It’s gonna depend on a lot of different factors. But what I want to do is walk through some of the things you need to be thinking about, as you weigh the question of whether or not you want to accept a client’s revisions.

Now the first thing to do is take a deep breath and not freak out. Okay, just because somebody comes back with revision requests, does not mean that there is something wrong with your contract. Let’s just take a chill pill. And once you’ve chilled out, take a look at what kind of revisions they’re requesting. First of all, do you even understand what the heck their requests mean. I have seen conversations in different Facebook groups, they can’t even discern or understand what the heck the other side wants. That could be for a number of different reasons.

One is, maybe they have a lawyer on their staff who’s sending new revisions, and they’re still using legalese and you don’t understand what it means.

It could be that your potential client, they don’t even understand what it means. They have taken this content from a contract that they found online or through another contract that they have signed with somebody else. And they’re like, “Oh, this kind of sounds important. Let’s put it in there.” First things first, you want to understand what the heck it means. If you don’t understand what it means. And you keep reading it and you think, “Oh, my gosh, this sounds like complete gibberish,” obviously, you can contact a lawyer who can review it for you and can explain it to you, hopefully, in plain Englis. Or go back to your potential client and be like, “I’m not 100% sure what this means,” right? And this is where I think having a conversation versus an email chain that goes back and forth is really helpful.

But let’s see here got a gist of what they’re talking about. What I always think about is “okay, I got this change, well, what is the impact? What is the risk here that if I accept this change? What does that risk level going to be for me?”

Let’s say you structure your business where you get paid 50% upfront at the time of signing of the contract, and then you get paid 50%. Right before you deliver whatever service it is you’re delivering, right? Now, let’s say a potential client comes to you and says, “you know what, I’m not going to pay you until after you’ve delivered the product.”   This is really going to be a personal and business decision. In my mind, that’s a risk that I’m not willing to take, because I have structured my business in a way that I want to get compensated at least 50% of my fees upfront. And before I deliver the work, I want to get paid, so then I’m not chasing down a client for payment, after I’ve already delivered the work, right? That could be a personal decision that you make, and you stand firm in. Maybe the situation is where they can’t afford to pay 50% upfront, you might say, “Okay, I’m willing to be a little bit flexible here. I’m willing to take 30% on, you know, on day one, and then the remaining 20% on day 30, for example.”  What really the point is here is you want to get to what is their concern that they have? And how can you guys come to some sort of an agreement in order to save the deal?

Now, having said all of this, I think it’s super important for you to know what your non negotiables are. So for example, let’s say you are a graphic designer. And normally, as a content creator, you own the copyright to whatever artwork that you create, you own the raw files. Now, you might have certain clients who want the rights to those raw files, or to the copyrights of the content that you created. This, again, is a personal business decision. Is owning those raw files really important to you, as a designer? Is that something that you want to retain that right? Or are you willing to give it to your client, maybe you charge a little bit more, if they want the raw files. These are all things you want to assess and think about. And maybe that is a non-negotiable for you. That is something that you are not going to let go of. Tor whatever reason you want to hold on to the copyrights to that content and the raw files as well. So if that’s the case, then you just stand firm on that. This is your business. This is how you run your business.  Work with clients who are okay with those policies and procedures.

Now, sometimes people say, Well, if a client comes back with any changes at all, this is like a red flag. Run. Don’t take a client like that. I wouldn’t make such a hard and fast rule. I would always always look at the types of changes they’re requesting. And I would engage in some level of conversation to understand why are they requesting those changes. Because there’s an opportunity there that you can save the deal and come up with some sort of amicable solution where you guys can still continue to work together, but both parties feel like their needs are getting met.

My point with all of this is I don’t want you to get turned off. I don’t want you to get freaked out just because a client comes back with changes, okay? Because contracts are always, always, always negotiable. And I think part of the reason why people get so freaked out when a potential client comes back with changes is that they don’t understand their contracts themselves.

So if you don’t understand what your contracts say, before you send them out, you’ve got to get educated you guys. So there’s a million ways you can do this. Obviously, you could always schedule a time with a lawyer who’s going to sit down and walk you through and explain your contract. Or you can sign up for something like one of my live webinars where we’re going to go through and I’m going to talk about some of the most common mistakes that folks make when it comes to their contracts. So there really is no excuse. Okay, so in the new year, we’re all going to get super savvy when it comes to our contracts.

In future episodes, what I’m going to do is I’m going to go over the most common questions I get from different industries, when it comes to the law, and when it comes to their contracts. So for example, we’re gonna have an episode all about the most common questions I get from event and wedding planners. I’m going to have one for designers, one for photographers, one for whatever industry you can imagine. Okay, that is what we’re gonna do. That is what you can expect from this podcast.

If you’re not already subscribing to the show, head on over to whatever platform you’re listening to it on, and subscribe. So this way, you get that automatically downloaded, when the episode comes out and you don’t miss a beat.

Next week’s episode, you guys is going to be fantastic. It is an interview I did with a another lawyer here in California, and we are breaking down how to hire your first employee. You are going to want to tune in for this even if you’re not ready to hire an employee just yet. Trust me, when you are ready to hire, you’re gonna want to have this episode kind of in your brain somewhere. Because it is a step by step checklist that we are going through and talking about. And I asked her a whole bunch of questions that I think you guys are gonna have to help really clarify some of the nuances. So it is a must listen, okay? So make sure to subscribe to the show. I really, really, really feel it in my bones, that this is going to be an amazing year for everyone. It’s gonna require work, it’s going to require effort, but we are going to get there. We’re gonna make this year, the best year yet.

If I can play a role in that, whether it’s from a legal perspective, whether it’s you just need a cheerleader, you just need a little rah rah shish koomba. I’m your girl, and you can find me at yourlegalbff.com. As always, thank you so freakin much for listening, and I can’t wait to talk to you later.

[Outro Music] Before you skip to that next episode, I want to invite you to a special event called Legal 360 Live. In this live online summit we’re gonna walk through what you need to know, legally speaking, as you start and grow your business. So if you’re ready to roll up your polka-dotted sleeves and finally get your legal house in order once and for all, head on over to youlegalbff.com/live. That’s yourlegalbff.com/live.