The Big Clues.
June 28, 2011 § Leave a Comment
One of the hardest decisions you’ll make as a creative business owner is when to say “no” to certain potential clients and partners. I’ve had my fair share of incredulous transactions. A client who hired me to write for his site then used my name to re-post articles from the LA Times. Another asked me to do some marketing consulting for them and then asked me to work full-time at a lower wage, acting like it was I that needed to work for their approval. A third still paid me for the first five articles quickly and easily and then never gave me another penny thereafter. My favorite though might be a much-trusted client who asked for a marketing strategy and never paid. Three months later, I received a mass email from said person: they had implemented all the ideas I had outlined. What a compliment! At least I know my ideas are actionable and work.
Sadly, these scenarios are not uncommon. And I’m sure each could have been worse. In my previous post on contracts (Cover Your Butt), I outline the importance of getting things in writing. Whether you’re the one striking the bargain or providing the service, a contract is necessary. In all of the above scenarios, I had written a contract and either had them sign it in person. Or I had them print it off and mail it back. In short, I was legally covered. I could have taken them to small claims court and fought for my money. For one reason or another, I couldn’t be bothered.
Perhaps it was something I knew deep down inside. Before I even began the process of working with those listed above and others that have royally screwed me over. A gut instinct. There were definitely some big clues that were there that I completely ignored.
1) Communication is Amiss: When you’re working with potential clients or partners, you should get each other most of the time in person, on the phone, and through email. If you find that they’re simply “not getting you” and you haven’t even started on the project, consider that a red flag.
2) Timelines are Different: You’ve got one idea of how things should be moving along and they’ve got another. Case and point, I’ve been working with a potential partner. They write to me, I write back. They respond 10 days later. This isn’t going to work. Clients might also expect you to drop everything and start on their project, perhaps even pull an all-nighter. Unless that’s your thing, your timeliness don’t match up. Don’t do it.
3) Money Talk is Avoided: If the transaction involves money or trade yet they are avoiding the discussion altogether or putting it off (“we’ll figure that out later,” they say.), watch out. About 99% of the time, this isn’t a good thing. The end result will be either getting paid less than what you were hoping or not at all.
I could make a four that encompasses what we’ve just talked about and it would be: People have issues! When individuals are unhealthy and have different perspectives, sometimes they’re just not worth working with. I know money is tight and things are tough right now. We’re scraping by month to month too. Yet heartache that comes with working with stupid people is not worth one minute of your precious time. That’s time that could be used finding the right client or partners! Best of luck. Don’t ignore the big clues.