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.

3 thoughts on “Client Philosophy

  1. I think that’s the only way to be. You’re essentially a solution provider rather than a web coder. The answer is always, “we can do that”. Even when we means other resources.

    Hope all is going well!

  2. I’m right with you on this one… depending on what my clients need I either code it, consult about it, or outsource it to others. The challenge I face on it is just being able to communicate to them my role in the process. I mention “my team” as I talk about proposals and costs, that way they won’t be shocked when later on I say, “You know, I don’t really know how that was built, but I’ll get you the answers!” and they look at me shocked, “You mean, you didn’t built this?”

    But if they ask specifically about this “team” of mine… well, in some instances it’s someone I find on Elance, a friend, a co-worker, or just a someone on Twitter. All depends on what the client needs and budget I have available 🙂

  3. Topher,
    That is called “ethics.” God is so very proud of you so is your family, friends and myself!
    Love ya,
    Cousin Sandi

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