We went back to our apartment in the City for two days to wash some clothes and get some things in order – you know, normal lives while waiting for my mother’s operation for breast cancer and for me to earn some money before the coffers are empty.
Okay, that was morose. I will certainly earn something before Char has used her inheritance. I’m not about to buy a golden faucet private jet. Who would buy such idiotic things anyway?
Then, during the rainy afternoon, when walking with Jay in his carriage through the borderline-suburbia that is our hood I get a call.
Turns out it is the old coordinator (who still coordinates) of the entrepreneur training program that my insurance association had me in for 3 months. It continues, and they’d like me to come and teach WordPress to the new entrepreneurs. Everybody needs a website, right?
Right, except when I find out a couple of days later that they aren’t going to pay me for the first workshop but only next year “when we have our new budget”, I get a little pissed. They have a coffee machine worth 10 grand, so why? Is it some kind of class consciousness gone bad?
Do they still see me as someone receiving unemployment insurance and dreaming of being and entrepreneur (as in: ‘yeah, right!’)? Do they somehow know how little money I am making still and figure that gives them leverage to push the price? (Sorry, negate the price.)
Well, business is business and I’ve had worse customers – much worse. So after cooling down I offer them 3 hours for free, then they can pay full fee for the rest – if they want it. But they won’t get much workshop, not even a ‘proof of concept’-workshop – especially not that. Not for 3 hours.
So they have to shell out some more, I figure. Even if they just want to test me before they decide whether or not to commit to a quarterly and paid workshop next year.
As they promised.
Somewhere behind the usual BS.
(At least I heard the words.)
So, maybe it is a test of the price – how cheaply can they get me next year?
There are a lot of maybes in business, even small – very small – business like me. Who is not a company. Who doesn’t have a company, except on paper. Who is just selling his work to the highest bidder, and sometimes lower. From day to day sometimes.
Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
But they made a poorly veiled offer which was ‘we’d like to pay you nothing upfront and maybe later’. That much was clear despite the wording of the first email, which was less concrete than the phonecall. The former said something like ‘come around now and then maybe later we will make business’.
Well, I make business now. Not as a matter of principle but of survival.
So I give them a deal where I spend some free time and in return get in contact with potential customers.
I don’t give them anything for free.
Can’t and won’t.
But I do give them something, even if I originally felt like walking away, because I felt insulted.
That is also business.
It’s not always the right thing to do, but you have to try it at times. There is no room for a puritan approach, nor for selling out all the time, especially if that means selling yourself too cheap.
I’m learning that the hard way, all the time. I’m learning that there are no certainties. Only certain patterns. In business.
And one pattern is negotiation. And as I’ve said before: You’ve got to know your deal-breaker. Mine wasn’t reached this time, but it was close because I felt insulted. But you can’t get personal. You have to give it a try – the deal. Especially in my position.
Then you can always draw away, if it doesn’t work. The trick is, as with Big Photographer Client Who Has A Small P, when to draw away. When to throw in the towel. When to walk away.
That is something I can only get better at learning. Here may be a new chance.
Or a good deal.