There are some lyrics to a DMX song, Party Up In Here, that ring true for this rule:
I don’t know who who the fuck
You think you’re talking to
But I’m not him
So watch what you do
Sometimes, I honestly don’t know who prospective clients think they are talking to when they approach me or any other freelancer or small business owner with this giant list of “You’re doing it this way or else” mentality when we are not your goddamn employee.
Last night, I received an invitation to interview from someone asking me to review and rewrite a letter proposing a solution (their solution) to some problem a company has. So, a sales pitch. I asked a couple of questions. I needed to better understand what the project was about because I have no idea if I’m a fit. Not every client is my ideal client. I don’t take every project that comes my way.
This morning I had a notification that they responded. The notification on my phone demanded that I be available today from 10 am to 5 pm to talk to them about their letter. Um. No. That’s not how this works at all. Hence the new Work From Home Rule #309: You are NOT required to give anyone an explanation for your NO. You can, but you aren’t required to do so. You are also NOT required to drop all of your other priorities and grovel at the feet at a prospective client you don’t know a goddamn thing about.
They still hadn’t answered my very simple question.
I Am Not an Employee
I haven’t spent the last six plus years building my business to be told when I will drop everything to cater to one person other than my children…and I only have one minor child. I did drop everything and cater to Jacob a couple of months back when a diesel engine was dropped on his foot at work and he needed to go get it x-rayed.
The IRS has guidelines about when someone is considered an employee and when someone is considered a contractor. And one of those guidelines is when I start bowing down to someone’s determination of when I should or shouldn’t work. All of my clients know my general business hours. I set my hours to meet my needs. I work certain hours on certain days.
This prospective client, if they want someone who works certain hours, is welcome to put in their job description that they need someone who can work certain hours. But I do not drop my current clients or my life to cater to someone I do not fucking know.
They Wanted Special Treatment
This is someone I don’t know. They won’t answer a question. All I have is a name. I can’t really even Google the name because it’s a vanilla name that will produce no less than thousands of results. I have zero way of narrowing anything down. And this person wanted me to drop all of my existing responsibilities today and focus solely on them. Ha.
That is most definitely not happening. I have things to do today. I have a video to make for YouTube. I’d rather use a Q-Tip and take 12 hours to bathe my Akita (who has skin allergies) than deal with someone who thinks they deserve special treatment when I don’t know them. Get the fuck outta here with that.
A Basic Unanswered Question Is a Red Flag
By the way, the prospective client went on to edit what they said to me and basically said I had to do “it” today and never did answer my question. Cool story, but a basic unanswered question is a red flag. It means that by the end of the contract, they will likely piss and moan and act like they’re upset and try to fight paying me (especially since they never verified their payment method).
Seriously, I know it can be tempting, especially when you’re new, to want to grovel at the feet of someone who drops what seems to be enticing words like “Fortune 100” but read carefully and watch for red flags…because this cat was soliciting a Fortune 100 and wasn’t with a Fortune 100.
Put your sanity first. You’ll never regret that.