Navigating Emergency Out-of-Scope Work: A Business Coach’s Guide

Filed in Educational — December 7, 2022

We all go through times of unavoidable crisis. These are the times when we’re the most vulnerable and the most in need of advice from a business coach.

You’ll have clients ask you to help guide you and give advice and carry out certain tasks. This is usually outside of their contract – it’s out of scope work. 

Out of scope work is the act of doing work for clients that isn’t part of the contract, such as when: 

  • They may want more of what is already included in the contract, for example: longer calls
  • They may have shorter deadline than first agreed 
  • They may want you to write them a PR speech or statement 
  • They may have had a client crisis or money crisis which they may need your advice and help to deal with 
  • They may have had a crisis in their personal life which will affect their business and need to roadmap a way to get through this. 

Out of scope work can be such a broad term and include any number of tasks both non-urgent and urgent. Despite this, today we’re focusing out of scope work during a crisis and how to get clear surrounding this when time may be limited. 

1. Decide what does out of scope work look like to you?

When it’s all very last minute, we can start to panic about out of scope work and have no idea how to deal with it. The questions below are prompts to help you consider the best course of action for you. 

  • Are you prepared to do out of scope work?
  • Do you want to?
  • What are your limits/to what extent will you go to in order to help your client?
  • Have you got a solid baseline strategy for dealing with out of scope work?

To make out of scope work easier, you should create a strategy to cover this eventuality. 

Consider revising/creating

a) Contract

To know what is actually out of scope work, you need a solid contract. 

Clearly outline and highlight the exact details of what your service includes and offers for your clients: time, prices, content etc…

Don’t let yourself be sidelined into saying that it is included in the contract when it is not. 

b) Policy 

Ensure that you have a policy for enrolling in out of scope work. Ensure that your boundaries and limits are outlined. Make it clear what you are prepared to do and what you are not prepared to do.

Although the ins and outs of each job may differ, you need to set a precedent and a baseline for what you are comfortable doing. 

Draw a line, or you’ll forever be walked all over. 

2. Decide if you actually want to do it   

Just because they’re a current client doesn’t mean that you have to do it. 

Don’t let your empathy get the better of you. 

There are some incredibly valid reasons of why you may not want to take on the work, such as: 

  • It will cause too much disruption for you
  • You haven’t been given enough notice 
  • It’s not within your capabilities/ they’d benefit from somebody else’s expertise more 
  • You just don’t want to 

There’s no point in doing the work if your heart isn’t in it.

If you don’t feel excited, motivated or inspired, then how can you do your best work?

Your client needs you to be in your best working mindset to fully support them in their time of need.

 3.  Get clear on pricing 

Don’t be one of those people who feels guilty for charging their clients for out of scope work.

They are asking you for an impromptu use of your time, energy and attention. 

Don’t do it for free. You’re not a charity. 

Yes, you are here to help people, but not without a fee. They’re being an inconvenience to you – why wouldn’t you charge for it?

Value yourself and your time.

Things to consider when pricing: 

  • How much of an inconvenience is this to you?
  • How much work will this require you to do?
  • How long will this take?
  • Is their problem money related? 
Reasons why you shouldn’t be concerned about charging clients for out of scope work: 
Their mindset:What this means:
They are desperate for your expert  helpThey’ll be prepared to pay any sum of money in order to keep their business going and to rectify whatever has gone wrong.
They need advice and help.
They need a fast solution Your help is needed ASAP. 
Delaying resolving the issue or helping your client to deal with it that they’re facing will only make them lose money. 
They know they’re being an inconvenience They don’t want to pay you next to nothing for disrupting your life and causing you extra stress. 
They’ll be incredibly grateful to you for helping them out. 

If you would benefit from having May’s support in creating a strategy to manage out of scope work, then apply for a Strategy Intensive here.

Working with May will enable you to maximise your gain from taking on out of scope work rather than shrinking away from it. Feeling empowered in your business and taking control over your workload stems from having a clear strategy in place. 

Alternatively, check out Episode 39 of the Honest Business Podcast for further discussion of managing out of scope work beyond just a crisis.

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