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What’s the best way to miss a deadline?

Posted by Deidre Rienzo on

Hi, I'm Deidre. In my posts, I talk about my voyage down the road of self-employment as a copywriting partner to designers, my achievements and roadblocks along the way, and what I’m learning as I go (with Marketing Mentor as my guide).

Last week reminded me of the time I crashed a Vespa in Greece. I was speeding down a hill, hit some pebbles in the road, and the bike charged one way while I flew the other—my hands still gripping imaginary handlebars.

Last week, I had to extend a deadline—twice. I hate saying it! As Thursday afternoon (the deadline) neared—I knew the project wasn’t going to be finished in time. It was taking longer than I’d expected, and I had put myself on a tight schedule to begin with.

I emailed and called the client to say, “I’m sorry, but the draft isn’t ready to show you yet. I’m going to need until tomorrow.”

On Friday, I worked on the project all day—and as Friday afternoon neared, I realized it still wasn’t going to be ready. Was the project bigger than I’d thought? Was my brain just moving slowly? I wasn’t sure. But I knew I’d need a few more hours with fresh eyes. It wouldn’t be ready until Monday.

Filled with dread, I notified the client again. I said, “This is taking longer than I thought it would, and I don’t want to send it to you until it’s just right. Can I have the weekend?”

The client responded, “Sure, that’s fine.”

I heard: Sure, that’s fine, but you actually really suck and we hate you.

Then I remembered that beating myself up doesn’t change the situation. I had discovered yet another situation where feelings don’t help in business.

I asked a fellow creative business owner about the situation. She told me, “We’re human. Things happen. And clients do it to us all the time—they push back dates on their end. A client relationship is two sided and requires give and take. You just have to communicate.”

Does this ever happen to you? How do you handle it?

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