Rules of Engagement

Ever since I quit my job I’ve been freelancing for tech startups and traveling between coasts to work with them. When I kicked off this lifestyle < 2 months ago I devised a plan for getting new clients. You can cut / paste / steal it here. But I’ve since realized that “getting” clients is merely half the battle — you also have to deal with their bullshit.

Note: This becomes quite a soul-searching experience because on one hand you need the money, but on the other hand you’re only freelancing in the first place because rotting in a cubicle is unbearable.

So you write a proposal and sign the agreement. Honeymoon phase, activate! Within 4 hours your inbox looks like this:

  • For sure!
  • Sounds good!
  • Yep, talk to you soon.

…And with most clients, it always looks like this. These clients are the girls who cook, clean, mow the grass, pay all the bills, and teach your son how to ride his bike and throw a baseball. But some clients, not so much. So I’ve drafted additional criteria that prospects must meet before becoming clients. One is that I won’t sign your NDA. The others are my Rules of Engagement. Here they are:

  • Be punctual when I spend a few hours with you pro bono.
  • Buy my coffee / lunch if I could have done this from home.
  • I have to be the craziest person in the room.
  • If you are crazier than me, this won’t work.
  • I will always win the “who can walk away from this deal” game.
  • I’m young and restless. I get stuff done and you will like it.
  • You are not my only client. Some days I won’t work for you until 5am.
  • Call me anytime. Some days I won’t work for other clients until 5am.

As with any restructuring there will be redundancy as well as friction. So I’m making some changes and will update these criterion accordingly.