Particularly when you begin your self-employment business—whatever the business might be—the tendency is to want to please everyone and to engage every potential client. But as you progress, you’ll learn that certain relationships are not worth your time. And some may actually be detrimental to your workflow and your pocketbook. Here’s a list (in no particular order!) of six types of employers from which to steer clear.
The Passionate Partner – often with creative material, or even with straight business opportunities, some employers will beseech you to get “passionate” about the project and to become a true “partner” in the undertaking—usually because they want you to offer your work at a discount or base your pay on some sort of performance contingency. You’re in business to work and get paid, so view any such relationships with skepticism.
The Aggressive Power Tripper – these are the overly demanding and critical potential employers who require unreasonable deadlines or who otherwise expect you to say “How high?” when they say “Jump!” Sure, you’re in business to serve your clients, but there are easier relationships out there to profit from. As you progress in your career, phase out these power trippers.
Where’d I Put That Quarter? – Anyone who is sketchy or full of delays and excuses about paying outstanding invoices is probably not worth your time. Their eyes may be simply bigger than their stomach, so to speak, and they might not have the cash flow to realize their lofty business goals. In any case, you have better things to do than collections.
Stopper and Starter – A potential employer may contact you, get really excited, tell you all about their grand plans and how you fit into them—and then drop off the face of the earth for a couple months, only to resurface and renew their excitement about the grand plan. You simply can’t rely on these people, whose ambitions may outstrip their willingness to roll up their sleeves, pay people, and get things done.
The Undecided – These employers change their mind like they change their socks. One week it’s one vision; the next week it’s an entirely different vision. Some contractors may not mind this roller-coaster ride (if you get paid for all your work) because, after all, their fickleness means you’re creating more work. Still, these employers may expect discounts in the form of free revisions or re-dos. Plus there’s the simple headache factor of not knowing what the employer wants because THEY don’t know what they want.
The Absolutist – The best employer-contractor relationship is a two-way street. The Absolutist’s motto is “my way or the highway.” He or she might require unlimited revisions, no upfront money or staggered payment schedule, or payment only if they are 110% satisfied. The translation to all of these hardball tactics is they are looking for any way to not pay you or at least delay paying you. If the terms of the contract can’t be reasonable, why bother?
Have you ever experienced employment under one of these intolerable employer types? Let us hear you horror stories in the comments!