Here are a few “chestnuts” I’ve learned along the way:
- Know what your time is worth. You will invariably be approached to work on spec, work for “sweat equity”, or work at a huge discount for the promise of better pay on “the next project.” These offers never pan out. Know what your service or time is worth, and engage only at those rates. Your time, resources, and patience are finite – and these “clients” will only waste all of these.
- Never sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Non-disclosure agreements between clients and contractors, especially on limited engagements, pretend you don’t have any experience that you didn’t attain but through that engagement, they are all nearly impossible to police, and start from a premise of distrust and suspicion. Besides: ninety-nine times out of one hundred, the “secrets” being protected have been done many times before, and are in effect, unprotectable anyway.
- Don’t be afraid to fire a client. We’ve all heard that the worst mistakes in life happen when you said “yes”, when you should have said “no.” If a customer or relationship is in opposition to the well being of your business, or your employees, then it is time to cut the engagement short as soon as you ethically and responsibly can do so. Your main responsibility is to yourself, your employees, and to your business. The best advice? Say “no” when your intuition tells you that that high-maintenance contract that you’re about to bag, may not be all it’s touted to be. Not all business is good business, and some customers are more trouble than they’re worth.
Remember: Making a profit isn’t a bad thing. It’s your business’s reason for being.
And if it’s not, you’re not running a business – you’re running a hobby.
Go, and be you.