When you are self-employed, people seem to think you need work – whatever work, any style, type or substance of work because, y’know, there are bills to pay.
This is wrong and most definitely the wrong mindset for you to have. If you think like this, others will too, including your clients.
Recently, I fired a client.
It was one that I had previously worked with. The termination of the work the first time around was fine, all amicable and everyone seemed happy.
Needless to say, I wasn’t happy as they said I wouldn’t be able to charge them for the time.
When they got their budgets back in order they contacted me again a year or so later and we started work again, in the same capacity as before. I was happy doing two to three hours for them every week, alongside my other clients. But then they changed the goal posts.
Suddenly they’d brought a marketing company on board for everything apart from the work I was doing for them. I would be required to travel to their offices (80 miles each way) every fortnight for a meeting.
That’s two days a month which would be written off, just dedicated to them. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy as they said I wouldn’t be able to charge them for the time, it would simply be part of what I was already doing. By the end of the next day I had finished working for them.
One client had been holding out on paying me for ages.
Charging for 12 hours a month was fine but then having to give up an extra two days for unpaid travel and meetings, taking into account the cost of fuel and the time I’ve be giving them when I could be working for other people, made the deal no longer workable.
I’d be working for next to nothing, or it actually costing me to do their work. It didn’t make sense.
Another example of when to cut & run from a client has actually happened to me twice.
I make a point to put ‘thanks’ at the end of ALL my emails to clients. I type it religiously because not only am thankful for the work, I’m also polite.
One client had been holding out on paying me for ages, months had gone by (chasing payments is the worst part of self-employed life). Eventually, I sent a final email across and instead of writing thanks, I simply put ‘Regards’ because I really wasn’t thankful for the months of payment being late.
The client replied saying that he will get around to the payments but then went to town on me saying that I am not thankful for the work he’d put my way and that I never say thank you.
Morals, professionalism and your feelings are important.
EVERY email apart from the last one said thanks, I went back and checked. Another client was the same and when I sent my final invoice chasing email with ‘Regards’ she swore at me.
She actually typed the F-word into an email and sent it to someone who was doing work for her. Do I really want to work for these kind of people!? The answer is no.
What I’m trying to get across here is that even as someone who is self employed, or runs a business and needs work coming in to keep the business afloat, pay bills and live, some work isn’t worth it. Don’t be afraid to hand pick your clients.
Don’t be afraid of saying no to clients just because they pay you. Don’t be afraid to stop working with clients. You are professional and sometimes money isn’t top of the list of needs. Morals, professionalism and your feelings are important.
There are lots of clients out there, you don’t have to settle for whoever offers you work in whatever capacity. There is no self worth there.
I would rather use my time for decent clients.