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Jacqui GrahamOctober 25, 20237 min read

Managing Multiple Clients as a Contractor: The risks and the rewards

In the world of contracting, diversification isn't just a buzzword; it's often the best strategy for success. For many contractors, working with multiple clients simultaneously presents an opportunity to maximise income and distribute risk. If one client engagement ends, you’ve still got another one going. But like all things, there are both benefits and challenges to this approach. 

Here we explore them, and delve into best practices for those considering or currently juggling multiple clients.

 

Benefits of Working with Multiple Clients:

 

  • Diversified Income Streams:

Increased earning potential: At its most basic, having multiple clients naturally translates to more avenues of income. The maths is simple: more clients usually equate to more opportunities to earn.

Risk distribution: Think of your income sources as a portfolio. Just as financial advisors recommend diversifying investments, spreading your income sources across various clients minimises your exposure to financial setbacks. If one client's contributions wane, others can compensate.

Income stability: The unpredictable nature of contracting can result in wild income fluctuations. By maintaining diverse revenue channels, you establish a more stable financial base. If one client's project winds down or they face unforeseen budgetary constraints, other projects can continue to sustain your financial well-being.

Flexibility in financial planning: With a more predictable income, even if sourced from various clients, you can make informed decisions regarding your personal and business expenses. Whether it's planning for a holiday, making a significant purchase, or investing back into your business, diversified income streams provide the flexibility and assurance you need.

  • Networking Opportunities:

Depth and breadth of connections: Working with a varied clientele allows you to cultivate a vast network spanning different industries and professions. This diversity can lead to collaborations you wouldn't have considered before.

Future opportunities: Each new client or project could potentially introduce you to their own contacts, significantly increasing your chances of securing more lucrative or fitting opportunities in the future.

Reputation building: Consistently delivering high-quality work to multiple clients amplifies your positive reputation in the wider professional community, enhancing trust and credibility.

 

  • Skill Enhancement:

Adapting to varied requirements: Different clients come with their own sets of challenges, technologies, and methods. Navigating these differences pushes you to be adaptable and quick on your feet.

Continuous learning: As you cater to a diverse clientele, you're compelled to stay updated with the latest tools, techniques, and industry trends. This continual learning makes you a more attractive hire or partner.

Portfolio diversification: Successfully completing projects across various domains provides a rich, varied portfolio that showcases your range and depth.

 

  • Negotiation Leverage:

Strengthened bargaining power: Not being overly reliant on one client for your income empowers you during negotiations. You can confidently negotiate terms, rates, and conditions without the fear of losing a sole income source.

Highlighting demand: Demonstrating that you are in demand, via engagements with multiple clients, can be seen as a real positive and can be used as a negotiating point in  itself.

Freedom to choose: A diverse client base gives you the freedom to pick projects that align more with your interests or values, instead of feeling compelled to take on every project out of financial necessity.

 

Challenges of Managing Multiple Clients:

 

  • Time management: Keeping track of each client's tasks, deadlines, and meetings can be daunting. It's easy to become overwhelmed if not on top of your personal organisation.
  • Potential for burnout: With many projects to juggle, you may find yourself working longer hours, leading to exhaustion and ultimately diminishing the quality of your work and in turn your reputation.
  • Client communication: Each client clearly, and understandably, is going to believe their project is your priority. You need to put clear steps in place to ensure you aren’t over promising and under delivering, as maintaining clear communication, honesty and managing expectations becomes crucial. 
  • Contractual constraints: Navigating contracts with multiple clients can raise certain restrictions. For example, non-compete clauses in contracts may restrict you from working with similar businesses or within certain industries for a specified duration. This could potentially narrow down your choices when looking for new clients or maintaining existing ones. 

Additionally, some clients may stipulate dedicated hours or exclusivity in their agreements, limiting your flexibility. These requirements could mean you’re contractually bound to allocate a set number of hours solely to their projects, which can impact how you manage and distribute your time across various clients. 

Being aware and prepared for these constraints is essential to balance commitments effectively and maintain good client relationships.

 

Best Practices for Managing Multiple Clients:

 

  • Invest in a reliable management tool: Use project management software like Trello, Asana, Scoro, RedBooth or Monday.com to keep track of tasks, deadlines, and communications.   Project management software will not only help you to get organised but will also help with collaboration with your clients or with anyone you bring in to work with you on a project.  Make sure you find the right system for you and then stick to it. 
  • Strategic planning and time allocation: Transitioning from working with one client to juggling several can be quite a jump, so it’s important to spend time understanding how it will all work. Map out the amount of time you have per day/week/month that you can dedicate to work, how long you’ll need to spend on each contract, and how long each project is expected to last for. Start with a project's end goal, then work backwards to outline its different stages. 

Once you have allocated specific blocks of time to each client, based on the attention they require, share this with your clients so that they know when to expect updates from you.  This proactive approach minimises the risk of unexpected calls or queries on the days you have dedicated to other clients.

Moreover, set a clear vision for your own business – decide on the maximum number of clients you wish/you are able to cater to simultaneously. This overarching strategy, coupled with individual client project plans, will enable you to handle these multiple accounts much more efficiently.

  • Clear and honest communication: Regularly update clients on where their projects stand. It's better to over-communicate than leave clients wondering.  If a project is running over time or has run into some challenges, tell the client as early as possible, set new deadlines and expectations and manage them through continued honest communication.
  • Set boundaries and don’t be afraid to say no:  It’s easy to overcommit when you’ve built good rapport and want to go above and beyond for your clients. However with more than one client in play, saying yes to everything you are offered is likely to overwhelm you.  Be transparent and honest and only take on what you can realistically manage.  Ensure each client understands your availability, and don’t overcommit. It’ll prove to be a smarter commercial decision in the long run and one that will help protect your mental health and reputation.
  • Regularly agree and review commitments: At the end of each week, review the work you’ve committed to for the next week. This helps in prioritising tasks and managing your time effectively.  The worst thing you can do is over promise and under deliver for your clients. Agreeing project deliverables, timelines and costs up front, will ensure you manage clients’ expectations and everyone involved has clarity over what is expected and when.
  • Seek feedback: Regularly ask for feedback. This not only helps improve your service but also makes clients feel valued and listened to.

 

So whilst managing multiple clients simultaneously can be a lucrative strategy for contractors, it's essential to approach it with a clear understanding of both its advantages and pitfalls. With the right tools, strategies, and mindset, it’s possible to make this juggling act not just feasible but also highly rewarding.

 

How Oncore can elevate your multi-client experience 

 

  • Efficient management of administrative tasks: Handling multiple contracts means managing varying payment terms, invoicing requirements, and compliance needs. Oncore can take the heavy lifting off your shoulders, ensuring each contract runs smoothly.
  • Reduced financial complexity: As a contractor with multiple sources of revenue, tax and super could be complicated but Oncore’s services means you get timely payments and efficient tax and super management.
  • Compliance made easy: Every client might have different contractual requirements. Oncore ensures you’re always in compliance, protecting you from potential legal pitfalls. As a contractor you may have legal and insurance obligations such as having PI/PL cover which we can help you with. 
  • Salary Packaging through Oncore - Although you are providing work for multiple clients, you can salary package through Oncore just as if you were receiving one income. We can help manage your expense claims all year round and get you into a novated lease for your next car with all payments managed by our experienced team. 
  • Expert support: Have a query about a contract term? Need advice on managing client expectations? Oncore’s team of experts is just a call away, ensuring you’re never alone in your contracting journey.


Incorporating Oncore into Your Workflow:

While it’s essential to have tools like project management software and a clear communication strategy, integrating Oncore into your workflow could take your multi-client management to the next level. 

Contact us to discuss how we can quickly help you navigate your multiple client contracts with confidence and efficiency.  By offloading administrative, financial, and compliance tasks, you can focus on what you do best – delivering exceptional work to your clients.

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