Raising Capital can be a very stressful time for business owners. They often find themselves short on cash, short on credit, and short on patience. It seems that many things take longer and cost more than they should.

One of the biggest challenges can be in working with service providers who do not meet their expectations. It costs a lot of money to engage with an attorney, a strategist, a branding expert, a marketing consultant, and so on. Having a favorable / excellent outcome is very important. More than one or two missteps can really hurt investor confidence. I have seen cases where the inability to work successfully with outside experts cost an owner their business.

Additionally, new business owners often don’t have experience working with outside experts, so that makes engaging with those experts all the more challenging.

So if you are working with outside experts, I suggest you do four things:

  • First, check references. Find others who have worked with your service provider. And be sure to check references who are not suggested by the provider; no one provides the names of those who were dissatisfied.
  • Second, do everything you can to make sure your written agreement matches your expectations for deliverables, timing, and pricing. You may want to have penalty clauses in case of delays and termination clauses for cause and for convenience. You may also want to have bonus clauses or clauses in the agreement that hold back part of the total contract amount for final acceptance of quality. And always have your attorney review the agreement for completeness and fairness.
  • Third, have a conversation with your service provider and stress the importance of them providing a quality service in the expected time frame, and the challenges you may face if they are late or deliver a poor quality service. Let them know that you are depending on them.
  • Fourth, do your part. Working with a service provider is often a collaborative effort. When they need your input, provide it promptly. When they request a meeting with you, have it as soon as you can. Be honest and direct about what you like and don’t like, so there are no surprises down the road.

Then, you will be doing all you can to make sure your expectations are being met.

Questions: Do you consistently seem to engage with service providers who fail to live up to your expectations? Are you doing all you can to minimize the possibility of failed expectations?

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