Know your Self, Know your Client

Categories Freelancing101

This is a guest post by Nicolas Acuna and Mikka Olsson, co-founders of, an iPhone and iPad apps development company. In the last year, they’ve had great success (and committed a fair share of mistakes!) creating apps for clients all over the world and decided to share their findings with the fine readers of Inspired Mag in the new Freelancing 101 series.

Freelancers put a lot of effort to create systems and processes to help our clients have a good experience and end up with a quality product. Our processes have been refined overtime and for the most part, yielded really good results. Interestingly, we have observed that the projects that don’t go really well, actually go really bad. After much thought, we think we know why. We call it “Client-Provider Fit”.

Client-Provider fit, or CP, is an observational tool that behaves like a personality test. It helps determine whether a particular client-provider pairing will have good chemistry or not. We realized that providers see clients in one of two ways:

1) The Executor

This is a client that:

Has a clear objectives for the project

Has quality resources and materials already created

Already thought out a clear roadmap for the project

Seeks input but is mostly seeking a talented team to bring his vision to life.

2) The Visionary

This is a client that:

Has and end goal in mind but does not know the in-between steps

Is looking for a turnkey solution

Sees him or her self as a part of the work team

In many cases defers to the expertise of team members/freelancers

Clients also see Providers in one of two ways:

1) The Craftsman

The individual or team that can bring the client’s carefully laid out plans to life.

Craftsmen listen to the client and produce iterative work until the clients approves the iteration that best matches their vision

Craftsmen can give sound advice that complement the client’s vision

2) The Architect

The individual or team that create the specifics from the clients grand vision

Architects can provide turnkey solutions but less iterative work

Architects can integrate the client into the work flow

Architects set the course for the project

From the above descriptions it is obvious that an Executor-Craftsman and a Visionary-Architect pairing have a good Client-Provider fit and could have an easier working relationship. Both Executor-Architect and Visionary-Craftsman pairings have less of a CP fit that might require extra efforts from all parties.

The Executor-Architect pairing can suffer from over direction while the Visionary-Craftsman pairing can produce delays or a sub par product due to lack of a concise direction.

The CP fit concept will help you prioritize your lead conversion efforts and guide you on which prospective clients to pursue and which ones to pass on. Passing on a client seems counterintuitive at first, but choosing the wrong client actually ends up costing more:

– A project with a bad CP fit steals resources away from other good projects

– It steals resources from other lead generation efforts

– It most likely does not end up being a repeat client situation

– A project with a bad CP fit is not what’s best for prospective clients

After learning the hard way, we firmly believe in figuring out your Client-Provider fit as early as possible. A bad CP fit will most likely lead to a strenuous work environment where both parties have muddled expectations about each other, making the project significantly harder than it should be. In some extreme cases a bad CP fit can lead to the cancellation of a project where nothing of value gets created and no one gets paid.

As a freelancer, you probably know where you lie in the provider spectrum. We hope that this post can help you pursue leads that are a better fit for you and your professional goals.

In the next post will will share on how to best figure out a CP fit and how to respectfully and wisely say no to prospective clients with who you might have a bad CP fit.

featured image courtesy of wikipedia

Nicolas Acuna and Mikka Olsson are the co-founders of, a high-end iPhone& iPad design and development company. You can learn more about them here