Monday, January 10, 2011

Entrepreneur stops future"scope creep" takeovers through careful contract negotiations

Showcasing experienced entrepreneurs offers an added marketing communications or social media element to help promote their businesses. In addition, it provides a forum through which they can share solutions to unique business challenges that might be the answer to a similar challenge with which yet another entrepreneur is struggling. This openness of information flows with the following story offered by

Rose Kostan-Schwartz, owner
Creative Design Solutions

As a graphic designer, I partner with clients to help them review and evaluate their branding in order to create strong visual solutions that are deliverable to both print and monitor. Often, small businesses begin with no budget or have no training to recognize why they need one. They get their business up and running with some family member or friend creating their identity pieces. Before long, they realize who their competition is and how they need to differentiate themselves from their competitors. This is where I can do my best work for them.

My uniqueness lies in my background as creative director for a direct marketing group before the era of digital design. I thoroughly understand the principles of graphic design having successfully moved into the age of electronic web design along with all other aspects of the medium. I realize the need for and have the skills to deliver creative for all communication media. When people talk about the best use of their dollars, most believe a website is all they need. I believe you need a mix of materials to promote your business including print and the electronic medium. A valued graphic designer is able to create promotions that thread image consistency through both media.

In the small business arena, my ideal client would be those who have been in business at least five years, understand who their competition is, recognize that they need a budget, and will partner with me in determining what elements their long-range marketing programs may require. Beyond that, they must show a desire to work with me in analyzing what we've developed so we can plan future programs accordingly. For those younger start-ups who don’t quite yet fit these criteria, I help connect them with designers who specialize in that new start-up business category.

One of the most painful, yet helpful, lessons that I’ve learned was about “scope creep.” In my field, the ability to communicate succinctly with potential clients creates a real challenge. This experience came from one particular job that was the poster child for scope creep. I began working with an inventor who had a start-up business. In the beginning, we didn’t talk about every aspect of developing his product invention and my proposal reflected precisely what we did discuss. When I got more into the project, scope creep began taking over big time. I was providing creative four times beyond what was in the original contract and I wasn’t objecting. It had to stop and I needed professional advice as to how to stop it.

I took my dilemma to a business women’s round table whose members helped me understand that both parties needed to be happy. They made me realize that just because the full scope became unclear and that I was not asserting myself properly to say as much, there was still time and room to initiate a renegotiation. Feeling confident in taking this action, I contacted the Chicago Artists Coalition that referred me to the Lawyers for the Creative Arts. They reassured me that the steps I was going to take were not out of line. After my renegotiation, we finished the project to everyone’s satisfaction. And, the client was most enthusiastic in saying that he wanted me in on his next project. The experience made me take a hard look at the content of my basic contract and how I needed to put together future contracts so that scope creep won’t ever, again, run rampant.

No comments:

Post a Comment