As the readers know – I do vent from time to time up here.
Business is a tricky thing. I’m not that great at it. For a while I ran the business with less worry on income and more on “doing good things”. As in money wasn’t the primary motivation. That changed two years ago through one particularly nasty stint where I found I needed to “eat” and do things like “sleep”. So I took a bit more of a smarter thought process to work and wrote some business practices down, stabilized my hourly rate, and got incredible consistent with estimates. I can’t do good things if I’m broke.
It’s helped. Immensely. Plus I felt at that point I was becoming more reliable as an entity. If you need something I can do THIS THING HERE and NOT THIS THING OVER HERE. That’s why I have business associates. I will pass you along if I can’t do the work.
Yesterday I spent half the day invoicing people. I have a time sheet – and somehow I had managed to delete one column of data from it. I spent a great deal of time fixing that column yesterday so I could get paid. Truth be told the client came out on the better end of things. I sent the invoice and we discussed a few charges. I shuffled time around and ended up dropping one charge I couldn’t adequately figure out what had happened. I had written it down – then deleted it in the “great Timesheet Debacle of May”. Yeah I know – One man company. How much was the charge? $50. I know. I know.
Earlier this week I ended up sending what amounted to a third invoice to some folks who had taken a class from me. They promptly informed me since they were unhappy with the class they weren’t paying for it. That didn’t stop them from taking it. Just from paying. I developed an inner voice after starting business. I’ve called it everything from “Voice in my head” to “my business associate”. It can smell BS a mile off. I detected it with this group but let them take a class. Heated emails have been flying. I’m almost at the point of saying “Forget it”. Almost. Maybe we will all get calmed down and fix it. Maybe not.
I fired a client one time. We had reached an impasse and the relationship was getting toxic. Neither of us were happy so I walked away and wished them the best and made suggestions as to who could fix their problems. I had one client propose a job – I bid on it – and found out the client pulled some shenanigans with the bid and quickly found with the work. I completed it and I probably should have went “this wasn’t what I said I’d do”. Once again – bidding them a fond farewell and suggestions for moving forward.
I probably shouldn’t have done it but I told the “training folk” from above they were about to get fired as we’ve had other interactions through the years. Nothing profitable but it went back to the “Do good things” thought from above. Ultimately I’ll probably get paid BUT my interaction will cease as soon as I send that 0 balance email. The relationship is getting toxic. As I always do they will get pointed to other resources and I will wish them well. They do good things – but life is short and I have a business to run.
Wow you have a lot of unhappy clients! You must suck. Actually I have a lot of happy clients. Forestry, Utility, Planning, etc…….The majority of people I work with actually have a good experience. I would say great but I am not one to go “I AM AWESOME”. I’m not – I’m just good at what I do or at least I try to be. How do I know I’m good? Because I know when I haven’t been and that isn’t something I attempt to repeat. Ever. The bad experiences do stick with you.
Anyway the client that has taken the QGIS workshop class and won’t pay has changed the basic way I’m doing classes. I knew at some point it would happen – someone would take a class and go “I’m not paying”. All my good GIS Friends said “Dude make them pay up front”. This was the one thing I was running loose with because I still think it’s more of an outreach than a money maker. So from here forward you’re going to have to pre-pay to take it. I’m also going to do a quick mental health check on the student. You may be thinking “what sort of person takes a class then refuses to pay”. Highly Educated ones. So if you start discussing this class going “This is beneath me but I’ll take it anyway” – guess what – No. I will forward you to some other online offerings from different people. I don’t want your money…and I like having money as it helps me eat and sleep.
I like all my clients past and present. Granted I may not understand what they do at first: “Oh that’s an Oak tree…No A Hickory….Wait….Winged Elm?!!? No….well…..you know what it is? A point on the ground right here”. The focus on data issues has helped vs “I LIKE SOFTWARE”. I like software – but it’s not something I try to force on anyone. I would prefer to spend that one extra hour discussing data and processes vs “Welp you need to buy new equipment”. Maybe they will have to – but with my current tool set anything will work for a bit – but it can be a longer conversation than “OMG you need 8 gigglebits of Ram with an upgraded zorp card for processing all the things” that we have to have before work starts.
Anyway – rambling for your Friday. Some of you may be going “OMG I’ve got Long term Gov’t contracts and million dollar things”. I know – I try. Maybe at some point. Until then – bring me your tired and your poor (but not too poor) huddled masses yearning for GIS and I will set you free….but not for free – because I need to eat and sleep.
Good People – Knock off early today. Life is short.