Freelancing, Domestic Life and The Pitfalls
By the end of 2014, freelancing levels within the UK had risen to an all time high of 4.5 million people, lead steadily from the boom of the credit crunch in 2008 (incidently the final nail that made me commit fulltime to self employment), yet the morality of some people still leads alot to be desired. To be self employed requires a self discipline, the ability to keep yourself working when time is ticking but the sun is shining, or you have the latest playstation 4 game to play, the latest book to read from your favourite author, the sales to visit or restaurants to go have lunch in with your friend – typing that makes it abundantly obvious as to the advantages of self employment. For me, it’s a mix of all of those things but also the ability to see my children grow day after day, to enjoy life with my partner day to day as we watch our beautiful family grow but for others, we can only guess on their reasons for self employment or their enjoyment experienced but one thing remains, their inability to do good business.
Now good business isn’t just turning £10 into £100, it isn’t finding an antique worth £50 but selling it for £250, it isn’t even hitting your self imposed targets… its simply coming away from any deal or project and leaving your opposite number feeling pleased with what happened.
As a developer / designer, my job typically means listening to a client, what they want to achieve and delivering their expectations, exceeding even, but the key word is delivering. For all the want in the world though, sometimes you will come across a snake in the grass within any business sector and none more so than when you are self employed. To give you an example; and i won’t name any names to save them the embarassment:
“Client Nameless wanted a website, a magento build which would replace their existing ekmpowershop website which wasn’t made live but had been setup accordingly, they also wanted to get a matching ebay template design for their new shop and having listened to the brief, we designed a layout, applied the branding and the client was delighted to accept. We then as per procedure took a 50% deposit, with the remaining 50% due when the website was completed but before the website could be integrated on their server we always ask for final payment upon their satisfaction, otherwise its a similar concept to going into Argos seeking a TV and saying “ill pay you when i’m home”… Anyway – the development proceeded on a timescale of 14-17 days, and we got on with the work promising to keep them updated via skype and email. Around two weeks into the project, we gave the client the last update before completion, except this time we recieved no reply and would continue to do so for another 3 weeks with no response. We asked them if they needed to suspend the project for a few months to get sorted before we recieved a prompt response asking for their apologies to be accepted and if we could continue, we agreed and the project was finalised. Responses got slow again, and even slower when we mentioned the final payment and if we would have any issues. The delay in responses and reluctance to talk about payment lead to us withholding the ebay part of the template until payment was made, we weren’t confident in their ability to pay and know how important they deemed this to be – which is where the problem began. How dare we withdraw work? How can they pay when the job is not finished? The job isn’t what we were expecting, we want a refund! Basically, every excuse they could find legally, as they could not to continue, which of course we refuted. They proceed to pay us £150 off the remaining balance of £625 and ask for the website, I then ask for the hosting details seeing this as a sign of goodwill and proceed to give them the website on the condition balance is cleared upon reciept. Guess what happened next – more delays in correspondance, even more with payment citing reasons such as “we have a shop to run, we cant respond as quick as you can” (because obviously, running a second rate camping store on Prestatyn High St. contains a high volume of traffic i suppose…) Anyway, i asked what on earth was happening, only to be told they wouldn’t pay until the job was 100% done and they would get a solicitor if i didnt comply… and then they changed all hosting login details and attempted to remove my access to the website this running away with the work and leaving us without the remaining funds – fortunately i still had access through ftp and phpmyadmin and removed the website immediately, and since we have had more stalling even from their own solicitor and await to date, the funding to be cleared… infact even their solicitor who was acting as an intermediary is awaiting funds from him too”
Now, if you’re still reading i applaud you, but the point is this kind of nonsense happens month after month, for every 10 good clients, we get 1 or 2 bad ones, it happens in every walk of life but what needs more understanding is that this effects us, it hurts us, it hurts our families and it harms our faith in the integrity of almost everyone we come into contact with. The phrase once bitten twice shy couldn’t be more true when this sort of thing happens but unfortunately it continually does and its made even worse when said ‘clients’ then turn the blame and accuse us of failing them and then ripping them off by not giving them their money back, table turning at its finest.
I am very proud to say i have been doing this for over ten years, over 7 full time and during which time i have been able to work to a level that allows my partner to be a fulltime mother without any issue on our personal lives, without losing any money, we are not a benefits family, we are a proud hard working one and people like the client above need to understand that if you can’t afford something, then don’t have it. Its that mindset that lead ironically to the credit crunch to begin with and why this country is still full of debt.
Honesty, integrity and reliability, thats how we base our ethics… how do you base yours?