At oDesk headquarters in Menlo Park, California, every Tuesday is a WFHT. This Tuesday, we'd like to talk about a sticky subject: when and how to say "No" to a client or buyer. Remember, you work for yourself! You can say no. So, here are a few guidelines we hope will help you out.
Reasons to Stop Taking Projects From a Client. Any reason is a good reason -you're the boss! However, here are a few you really shouldn't feel guilty about: (1) Ethical Reasons: The client asks you to do things you really aren't comfortable doing (even if they are legal). (2) Relational Reasons: You can't stand working with them. You just can't seem to see eye-to-eye, no matter how hard you've tried. (3) Productivity Reasons: They are experts at the art of time suckage and you are tired of taking their phone calls at all hours of the day and night. (4) Personal Reasons: You just don't like the assignments. It's okay to listen to your gut and move on. (5) Financial Reasons: They don't pay -- or aren't paying enough.
Wrong Ways to End the Relationship. While we support your need to end the relationship with your buyer, there are a few things we want you to avoid doing on your way out. (1) Venting Frustration: It isn't in your best interest to burn the bridge, so don't end it on a bad note - no matter how upset you may be over the circumstances. (2) Using the Wrong Medium: If you typically talk on the phone with the client, don't end things via e-mail. Also, no matter what, please -- for the love of all things freelance -- please, don't "break up" by voicemail! (3) Ending Mid-Project: Sometimes there is no good place to make a clean break, but try (if you can) to end the relationship with a completed task.
Right Ways to End the Relationship. Always put your best foot forward on your way out the door -- just like when you walked in it. (1) Thank the Client: They gave you work. They paid you. (We hope.) Thank them for the opportunity. (2) Recommend a Replacement: You won't always be able to do this, but it's a real sign of professionalism if you can. (3) Give Them Notice.:Don't stop out of the blue. Tell them it's over at least a week or two before you really need to walk away (if possible). (4) Don't Elaborate: They don't need to know much; just that you are switching your focus to some other clients and won't be able to help them any longer.
WFHT Recommended Reading
"Why I'm Trying to Become a Quitter" from Stepcase Lifehack
"Guidelines for Turning Down Freelance Work" from Wake Up Later
"How to Craft Your Personal Business Model" from Freelance Switch
"11 Tips on How to End a Client Relationship" from Men With Pens
"How to End the Client Relationship" from Writing White Papers
Much like a divorced marriage counselor, my ability to dish out advice is not an indicator of my ability to implement it. However, having worked from home for over a decade, I've learned what works and what just creates more work.