18 Tips For Managing Your Trickiest Clients

We’ve all had one (or several!) clients who keep us working late into the night. Here are 18 ways to help manage their expectations.


Woman Using Computer In Dark Office

  1. Identify the stakeholders: Understanding the role your clients’ have within their organisation, such as their level of importance and sphere of influence, makes it easier to understand their needs and what impacts their decision-making process. Knowing their pain points will definitely help you manage their expectations more easily and effectively.
  2. Set goals: It’s really hard to manage success if you don’t have a strategy in place from the start. Explain your methodology to themand how you’re going to reach the goals. Set a timeline, showing them what you’re going to achieve and then do your damnedest to stick to it.
  3. Understand their budget: Provide detailed quotes, monitor how much you’re spending and stay within budget. When the job is done, provide invoices that are clear and easy to understand and don’t include nasty hidden costs that haven’t previously been discussed.
  4. Be transparent: Be honest, have guidelines and boundaries in place that are easily understood, and talk to your clients about both of your expectations.
  5. Be responsive: Stay connected, respond to their emails promptly and keep them informed at every stage of the process.
  6. Face-to-face contact: Phone conversations and emails only go so far in maintaining and building great client relationships. Meeting with your client regularly helps to deepen your connection, keeping them engaged and ensuring you and your business are top-of-mind.
  7. Listen to them, but hear what they say: Understand what they really want from you. This sounds like a given, but what it really means is listening carefully to their requests – even if these seem to be coming in a constant stream – and understanding their motivations.
  8. Know the challenges they face: Accommodate these with the services you offer. It could be technology you use in-house that helps solve their problems or individuals and organisations you partner with that can provide them with services they would struggle to find elsewhere.
  9. Build trust: Do what you say you’re going to do and let them know ahead of time if circumstances are likely to change.
  10. Don’t be a ‘yes’ person: Your client is paying for your skills and knowledge. If you think they are suggesting something that could prevent you delivering positive results, don’t be the shy retiring type – speak up and make recommendations that you know will work.
  11. Build detailed reports regularly: Reporting enables your clients to understand the impact you’re having on their business. Highlight your achievements in weekly or monthly breakdowns and make recommendations for areas where they could see improved results.
  12. Be innovative: Come up with ideas that will save them time, money and resources.
  13. Use your connections: Your personal branding can help grow your clients’ audience and promote the work you’re doing for them. Post, like, share and retweet their articles.
  14. Educate them: Your client needs to understand how you will achieve your results and what’s involved in the process. This is particularly relevant if it the process is new to them or if it will take you an extended period of time to achieve the results you’re aiming for.
  15. Teach your team: The relationship you have with your clients should be seamless, so make sure your team is kept up to date with the work you’re doing with them and that every touchpoint they have with them is a positive one.
  16. Be consistent: Be professional at all times, especially when you’re under pressure of deadline.
  17. Go above and beyond: Under-promise and over-deliver. Be conservative in your estimates, so you delight clients when you exceed their expectation.
  18. Be helpful: Send information, links, events and so on you think will help grow their business.

You’re on their side

Your clients are trying to achieve results that make them look good in their own organisation and – if they’re a founder – will help them drive a solid return on investment. Having an in depth understanding of the boxes they need to tick will help you navigate even the trickiest of relationships.

Are you a founder who is experiencing challenges with your client relationships? Rare Birds can connect you with a mentor who can help steer you through the maze of uncertainty, which may be creating problems for you and your co-founder.

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What It Really Takes To Scale Your Business


This Is What It Really Takes To Scale Your Business

Young woman in international airport

Reaching global audiences is a focus for most SMBs, but how can you tackle the challenges of scaling?


Rare Birds Founder and CEO Jo Burston describes what needs to happen to make scaling possible.


First, she says, you need to define why you want to scale – considering what scaling means from a build and impact perspective – and then how to go about it.

“We know that technology and the number of people we have within the organisation is scalable, but how do we apply our resources and the capabilities in a combination that creates the ‘how’? That is the secret sauce ingredient to entrepreneurship,” says Jo Burston.

She has successfully scaled three businesses, with her largest business Job Capital, forecast to turn over $40 million this year. She says to determine the size and impact of scaling you need to strategise and implement actions that enable it to happen.

“If I was starting my first business and I wanted to scale, I might think that scaling means reaching seven capital cities in Australia. But now, 10 years later, scaling for me is, ‘I want to be able to reach everyone on the planet who has the internet’.”

How to get started

One way to go about reaching “everyone on the planet” is to first test all your ideas about how to scale before building anything. Consider how time, costs and your resources impact these experiments.

“I put about six to eight months of thinking into how to do it… I anticipate five different ways of scaling a business and then look at it from a technology perspective first, a financial cost perspective second, a human capital and resources perspective third, and then an impact perspective fourth,” she says.

“If all those things line up for me and they all look like green lights, and I’m capable of resourcing those four areas, then scalability will occur.”

If one of those four things is missing though, it’s unlikely that scaling will be successful.

Getting the technology right

Jo Burston says she managed to scale Job Capital – an essentially bricks and mortar business – by automating parts of it. “I could see straight away that by removing the friction or removing the points of contact where a human could be replaced by an automated piece of technology that I would be able to scale the business much faster.”

With Big Data, a business she launched in 2013, she scaled it by building a platform for an entire contingent workforce. “It was a really complicated piece of work. We mapped out the process for the customer, the company and the candidate.”

She looked at who the customer was, what the product needed to be and how she could multiply the effect of that. She also considered how many sets of hands and decisions were being made during this long and difficult process.

It took a year to map out a technology-enabled, scalable product. Then the team started building the technology incrementally, testing if each piece worked before proceeding to the next piece. They also recruited a volunteer customer to test the platform for time-efficiency and the user interface.

“It was a long piece of planning and processing, and we didn’t actually build anything until we could see that it was scalable – until we had the resources; the human talent to help it happen, and the time that was required to do that.”

She says entrepreneurs often see scaling as a fast move. “For me, it has always been a slow, measured, carefully thought through strategic plan. It’s a big investment, so you’ve got to make it work and be prepared in that journey to iterate and pivot without a lot of cost or time being lost.”

Justifying the costs

If you’re struggling to justify the cost of developing a platform that costs, say $50,000, it helps to weigh it up against the cost of hiring someone for a year for the same amount of money.

“If I bought myself a $50,000 diamond ring in one year everyone would look at that and go, ‘that’s unbelievable, how can you afford that?’ But I was putting $50,000 people in my business without having the same ‘wow’ factor. So, I thought, ‘why don’t I replace this $50,000 of person, who is only able to deliver for one year and convert that into $50,000 worth of technology, which can deliver for me year-on-year and it’s repeatable, and scaleable?’”

She then worked out how to do that many times over, so it was hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of investment, “however, I knew the long term, scalable returns would also return to me, and they did.”

Technology is also depreciable and has research and development benefits. “When I pay an employee at that level, I’ve still got to pay tax and on costs, so add another 20 per cent for turning the lights on, so to speak. Whereas, with technology there are attributes that not only progress the business faster, but there are incentives, from a tax perspective, to do it as well.”

Sharing the vision

As the company expands, Jo Burston says you need to be clear about the vision, because it’s the businesses’ guiding rudder when things go wrong. She recommends sharing the vision openly with your employees, so they can decide for themselves if they can cope with the pressure. She typically shows her team the goals and workload for the next 12 to 18 months, “setting the vision for that growth pain before it happens”.

“People thrived in that environment or they didn’t. They would often leave, because it was just too challenging for them to be stretched and to be that uncomfortable.”

Those who embraced it grew as the company scaled. “They just did incredible stuff, because they didn’t know they could even do it,” she says.

“When you look back in 12 months’ time and really actually measure their success, and not in a numerical way, but what their behaviours were and what they learnt in the process… that’s got a really incredible ripple effect in a person. If they achieve something and they’re acknowledged for it, then they’re going to try to do a little bit better next time until all of a sudden they get to a point where they look at themselves and go, ‘oh my god, I’ve changed. Look how I’ve grown’.

She says employees also have a responsibility to understand the vision, because fast growth companies need people who can get in the door, reach benchmark and keep up with the pace of growth. “Individuals have a responsibility to ask themselves, ‘how am I going to stay relevant in an organisation that’s moving faster than I am at the moment?’”

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Discussing This

These VIPs Hated Public Speaking And The Thought Of Performing Made Adele Physically Ill

If the thought of speaking in public makes you feel sick to the stomach then you can probably relate to these entertainers and entrepreneurs.


They felt the fear too, but prove that you can develop winning tactics for overcoming it.



Many of the world’s most accomplished entrepreneurs and entertainers seem like naturals when it comes to networking, public speaking and performing. They can wow audiences and seem to connect effortlessly with guests at parties, and events.

Well, we’ll let you in on a little secret: many of the world’s most successful people struggled to become comfortable in front of audiences.

For small business owners as well as billionaire business tycoons and pop icons, setting aside fears can take an immense amount of effort, counselling and support. Regardless of the sizes of their businesses and fan-bases – and the popularity of their brands – there is a common thread among all the entrepreneurs and entertainers you’ll see below. Each person found their business and personal brand grew exponentially when they put themselves on stage for the entire world to see.

1. Warren Buffet

Warren Buffet, an investor worth $73.1 billion, used to have a debilitating fear of public speaking. In college, he’d plan his classes in an effort to avoid any course that might involve speaking in front of others. At one point, he tried to face his fear head-on by enrolling in a public speaking class, but he dropped the course before it had begun.

In his 2009 biography The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, he said he was so terrified of public speaking, “I would throw up”.

At 21, Buffet decided that he needed to change. He enrolled in a Dale Carnegie course with a handful of other participants who struggled with the same public speaking phobia.

The course helped him shed his fears of expressing himself in front of others. Of public speaking, Buffet has said: “You’ve got to be able to communicate in life and it’s enormously important. Schools, to some extent, under-emphasise that. If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential.”

He overcame his fear of public speaking by finding a group of like-minded people to learn and grow with. Today, Buffet’s advice on investing and other financial matters makes headlines around the world.

2. Adele

Even veteran performers suffer from stage fright. Despite performing in front of millions of people during her career, Adele has struggled with being comfortable on stage and admitted she was “scared of audiences”.

“One show in Amsterdam I was so nervous, I escaped out the fire exit. I’ve thrown up a couple of times,” she said, during an interview with Rolling Stone.

The pop star opened up about her tactic for calming her stage fright. She said she found strength in Beyoncé’s alter ego Sasha Fierce. Combining Sasha Fierce with the memory of late country icon June Carter, Adele created ‘Sasha Carter’ – a composite that gives her a boost of confidence to take to the stage.

3. Richard Branson

The founder of the world-renowned Virgin brand is another example of an entrepreneur who had to overcome public speaking fears. The business icon says he, “loathes making speeches, and always has”. He recalls a school assignment where he had to speak in front of his classmates, and a bell would ring every time he stumbled over his words. Decades later, Branson says he still breaks out in a sweat when he remembers that task.

Now Branson has a few simple tips for people who struggle with networking and speaking:

• Imagine yourself in a comfortable situation, like being at home surrounded by family, while you are speaking onstage.
• Practice often so you can get comfortable with talking to large groups.
• Prepare before you speak to others so you are fully confident in what you are going to share.

4. Ana Flores

Ana Flores is the founder of the #WeAllGrow blogging network. Flores has to speak in front of others and network on a daily basis. She has had some major speaking assignments as well, such as the address she gave on gender diversity at the White House.

Like others on this list, Flores was once terrified by being in the limelight. Her advice for overcoming your public speaking fears? Never say ‘no’ to a speaking assignment on topics that you believe in and are comfortable with, and make sure that your passion for a topic comes from within so that your speech is genuine and moving.

5. Mark Zuckerberg

Even Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the world´s most popular networking website Facebook, had to face networking and public speaking fears. When Zuckerberg first stepped into the limelight he received criticism for being a poor presenter. In some interviews he’d sweat profusely or stumble over words to the point where it was distracting for viewers. As a young entrepreneur he had a lot to learn about getting in front of crowds.

Mark Zuckerberg at G8 in Deauville, France


Observant viewers noticed that Zuckerberg underwent a public speaking transformation after the Wall Street Journal’s D8 conference in 2010. He started radiating calm and confidence in front of crowds, and his messages became stronger and clearer than before. There’s no clear evidence about what he did to bring about the transformation, but as he relaxed more in public his personality has begun to shine through.

So there you have it – five accomplished entrepreneurs and performers who had to use creativity, courage and gusto to tackle their stage fright and to take their businesses to the next level.


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Minister Applauds Rare Birds For Its Support And Advice For Entrepreneurs

Women are starting and building small businesses in Australia in “staggering” numbers, but they can’t do it alone, said The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs during the launch of Inspiring Rare Birds’ Ambassador Program in Canberra.


Minister Bishop and The Hon Michael McCormack MP, Minister For Small Business were guest speakers at the event to welcome Rare Birds’ newly appointed ambassadors for Canberra: Stefanee Lovett, the Managing Director of Capital Hill Advisory; Amanda Whitley, the Founder and Director of HerCanberra, and Mick Spencer, the Founder and CEO of ONTHEGO Sports.

Minister Bishop said she felt sure the program would provide “amazing results” in the capital. “The number of women who are starting, running, building small businesses is absolutely staggering, but they do need support,” she said.

Rare Birds Canberra Launch

Photos from Inspiring Rare Birds Ambassador launch in Canberra. Selected images by photographer Martin Ollman. To book him for your next event you can email him at mollman@gmail.com


The event was held in Parliament House and attended by more than 150 guests, including Senator Bridget McKenzie, Senator For Victoria.

Minister Bishop, who is also Australia’s first female Foreign Minister and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, said she had made the empowerment of women a pillar of the federal government’s foreign policy and aid programs. “We know that if women are given opportunities to shine they can drive economic growth, prosperity and stability around the world,” she said.

She applauded Inspiring Rare Birds’ Founder and CEO Jo Burston for creating an organisation that is, “committed to supporting and providing advice to female entrepreneurs through education and training”.

She said this aligned with what government was seeking to do through the national innovation and science agenda, “giving support to female entrepreneurs in the science, technology and mathematics fields, and beyond”.

“Women are by nature, by ability and capacity, great entrepreneurs,” she said.

Minister Bishop said she also believed “explicitly in the power of mentorship”.

“I’ve seen specific examples of how mentoring programs can lead to some extraordinary outcomes,” she said. “I know that your organisation is committed to providing female entrepreneurs with that level of support, will drive that spirit of enterprise, individualism, entrepreneurialism that I believe is the future of economic growth and prosperity in this country.”

Minister Michael McCormack said women were under-represented as entrepreneurs, in startups and tech fields, and in the investment sector. “The number of Australian women operating their own businesses has steadily increased over the past 20 years, but in line with other OECD countries, they remain under-represented as entrepreneurs,” he said.

He described Rare Birds’ vision to see a global community of one million women entrepreneurs by 2020 as “admirable”. “It’s inspiring to see both male and female leaders within the Rare Birds’ network building momentum and encouraging women to pursue their business and innovative ideas.”

“It’s this kind of vision which will make a difference and have far and wide-reaching benefits,” he said.


NEWSLETTER: This Week In Entrepreneurship… #37


The $400k Grant Helping PROJECT ROCKIT Reach ‘Every Corner Of The Country’


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PROJECT ROCKIT Co-founders and Co-CEOs Lucy (left) and Rosie Thomas explain how the grant will help their social movement reach children across Australia.





Thinking Of Applying For A Grant? We’ve Got You Covered


Learn Pia Turcinov’s top tips for entrepreneurs who are looking for money to grow their businesses.




How To Build A Membership Model That Really Works


 Group Of Dogs With Owners At Obedience Class

Attracting new members isn’t enough – we show you ways to retain them as well.




Can You Afford Not To Podcast?


 Woman runner kneeling, looking down, listening to music


Podcast ads are proving a lucrative stream of revenue for entrepreneurs who want to build loyalty and engage fans. This is what you need to know to do it too.




See Pia Turcinov Talk About Grants And Funding 



Join us for a Rare Birds event in Perth on 16th February from 5pm-7pm when we’ll be discussing grants and funding with a panel of leading industry experts.

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How To Build A Membership Model That Actually Works

Group Of Dogs With Owners At Obedience Class


It’s the dream for many entrepreneurs: a solid, low-maintenance membership model that produces a constant stream of revenue.


Scores of entrepreneurs have managed to get it right, but usually not without a few glitches along the way. Take Lynda Weinman, who founded the online learning portal Lynda.com with husband Bruce Heavin in 1995. Introducing a subscription model almost broke her business.

So how can you maximise your chances of getting it right from the beginning? Understanding your audience is key, according to Birchbox subscription service co-founders Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna.

To do this you need to start by asking yourself three questions:

1. Who are your potential members?

Let’s say your audience is dog fanatics and you want to create a platform that’s packed with training articles and videos, along with information about different dog breeds, diets and ownership tips. You’re thinking of charging $5.99 a month for access to selected parts of your website.

To find out if your idea is viable, gather as much information as possible about the demographic of your audience. How are old they, what’s their income, education, title and geographic location? The more data you collect, the more insights you’ll have into what your users need from their membership.

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2. What are your audience’s challenges?

This is where surveys work really well. You can use sites such as Apester and Typeform to create surveys that allow your community to identify and rank their challenges in order.

Your dog fanatics might tell you that finding organic food for their pet is difficult or that their dog gets lonely when they’re at work or away from the house for hours on end. Having this kind of information can help you:

  • Refine your membership offering.
  • Plan for enhancements to your platform.
  • Allocate time and resources within your team.
  • Budget for future technology upgrades.

3. How are you going to solve these challenges? 

Once you have a picture of who your members are likely to be and the challenges they face, you can develop a membership package that helps solves these problems. Look at those offered by your competitors and if there’s a gap in the market for what you’re proposing. Creating a SWOT analysis can help you identify this more easily.

From here you can explore suitable price points and – if you’re planning on offering a tiered membership comprising of different products and/or services – define which programs offer the greatest potential for revenue growth.

To implement your membership program you’ll need a marketing program that focuses on attracting new members as much as it does retaining them. You can read more about this in the 2016 Membership Marketing Benchmark Report.

What if your membership model doesn’t work?

If you find yourself losing members, don’t panic – there are ways to get your audience back and grow it:

  • Talk to your members – your relationship with them is crucial.
  • Make sure your team is highly focused on providing attentive, personal customer service – they need to care about their work.
  • Revisit your data and pay close attention to indications that your members’ needs may be changing. 
  • Consider improving the quality of your membership service.

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