Lately I’ve been working with a client who isn’t exactly sure what he wants, so we’ve been discussing options and ideas. I showed him some things and he said “Did you write this?” I told him no, but I could learn it, and if not, I’d help him hire the guy that did instead of me. He said “you’re a weird businessman”.
That struck me as odd at first, because it doesn’t seem weird to me. Then I spent the next couple days pondering what it meant.
I came to realize that the crux of the issue is what I deliver to clients. It’s not code, it’s not design, it’s whatever they need. Sometimes they need code, sometimes advice, sometimes they need to know who to hire, and it’s not me.
If my goal in a client relationship is to serve the client then sometimes I’m going to tell them to hire someone other than me, and sometimes I even tell them what to tell the other guy to help HIM get the job done better.
Sometimes I don’t have the skills to do what they need, but I’ve been in this business long enough to know someone for just about anything. Sometimes they can’t afford what would be really ideal, and need to go with something else. No client is the same.
There is some risk involved in this. If I was just in it for the money, I’d take every job, whether I knew how to do it or not, and fake it the best I can. This way I’ll be sending some jobs away. I think in the end though, that doing what’s best for the client and letting the chips fall where they may is going to be more rewarding.
This also means I need to pick clients that don’t have businesses or practices I agree with. If I’m dedicated to furthering the goals of the client, I need to be sure they’re not something I can’t live with.