As I worked through today’s tasks in my ‘home office’, while Photographer Client (CN) is romping around Burma to shoot monks, I wondered if I hadn’t after all made a wrong decision about this client.
If I’m not entirely wrong I have written about it previously, and most definitely thought about it:
Like saying once and for all – ‘I’ll work 3 days or 24 hours a week and no more – if you are not satisfied with what I can accomplish in that time, find someone else’.
So it is a dealbreaker if I only get paid by hours but is expected to work in my sparetime to complete certain tasks.
Even though I tried to square the circle by agreeing to some low-maintenance tasks, like looking after social media accounts, taking care of some correspondence and ‘learning’ about how to do this or that on the website, if I don’t know it already.
But that attempt at interpreting the rules in both my favor and CN’s favor has and will bring only bad things. It’s like opening the barn door a little bit, hoping the rest of the horses won’t bolt through.
Which brings me to my next point: I’m not going to ask him to work an extra day a week – and only those three days in total – to a lower fee.
Why? My fee is low enough already?
The more I think about this idea I had of suggesting that I work an extra day a week at his office, to a lower fee, instead of the ‘fuzzy deal’ about doing some more or less unspecified work at home … the more it feels like another bad decision.
Either pay me for my hours or my deeds. Not some crossbreed genetic experiment, where you pay me by hours and try to cajole me to do more, hombre. That’s not going to work.
So why would another day at the office not work, you ask? Well, do you think CN would then be satisfied? I know him and I know the answer.
If he asks 125 percent now, he would just do so again. Raise the bar.
Like: Pay me for 24 hours then but ask/push/cajole for me to work a de facto 30 or 35 hours.
It’s just going to be never-ending if I don’t muster some courage and stand fast on my principles. (And risk that he finds a new supplier, of course, at a moment when I darn well need that money.)
I thought it was courage to confront him with this situation and then say – ‘hire me 24 hours or not at all’.
But it wasn’t. It was just another form of hiding. A way of avoiding the discussion and confrontation of how much my time is worth.
Remember: I set the fee for those 24 hours lower than for my present 14 hours in order for him to say yes. That at least is the plan (we haven’t talked about it yet).
Why do that? Why not start out with the normal fee? Could it possibly be to avoid conflict and risk?
Well, d’uh. Those are aligned with entrepreneurship. No matter if you are going to have a baby in the family and your spouse is out of work after her maternity leave.
Sometimes it can be necessary to bend principles, of course. Reality is a harsh dictactor.
But I started bending myself instead. Right away.
Before I had even tested if I could go further by being just a tad more courageous. Before even talking to CN, I cooked up this plan that would positively make him say yes by selling myself cheaper than now and then – I hoped – avoiding all the ‘fuss’ with him calling me after office hours and us discussing if I should do this or that, even if I’m no longer paid – just to keep the gig, of course. That is always the implicit understanding.
There’s good customer service, of course. There’s also doing yourself a disfavor by selling out. Where do I draw the line?
How about here?
So when he comes home we’re going to have the talk, but it’s going to be different. I’m going to say what I should have stuck to from the beginning – that there can be no crossbreeds.
Either I work per hour, and then in his office if he insists on controlling that I actually work and don’t snooze.
Or I work and get paid by task finished.
Then he can offer me more hours, at the same fee.
Or he can ditch me.
Or he can try to cajole me a bit, see if I don’t bend again and do something out of office for him anyway. (To keep my gig, of course.)
I’ll do something out of office, right.
I’ll look for more clients so I’m not 70 per cent dependent on him for my monthly minimum income. That looks too much like a regular job, which wasn’t the deal.
I’m an entrepreneur now. I’d better remember it. But I guess all starts are difficult.
Two steps forward, 1 step behind.
As long as it doesn’t last.