I like to have a lot of fun. And by that I mean joking around with people and laughing. Since I work for myself and therefore I work a lot of hours, I don’t really get out much socially. So once I get to know a client pretty well we usually tend to banter back and forth and have a great friendship. This is really the best of all situations, because once a client has accepted you on some sort of friendship level, then they are usually very loyal and may even be forgiving when mistakes are made.
But how about when it is the other way around? I have had plenty of friends who have hired me for various things. Sometimes it goes great. But not always. Some are surprised when I tell them I am not doing the work for free. Some are surprised that they don’t get much if any of a discount.
One of the toughest situations is when you begin to do work a friend and they take on a completely different personality once the work begins. This doesn’t always happen but periodically the fact that you are doing work for them turns them into a boss figure and for some reason they feel they need to treat you as and employee versus a friend who is doing some work for them.
How do you handle that?
My answer is, drop the client relationship before it completely ruins your friendship. If this person is a true friend, then no amount of money is worth risking it. So explain to them that you are not sure that working for them is the best scenario and make recommendations for other people to do the work. If they insist on you doing the work, then just be completely honest that you feel it is affecting your friendship. Give them an opportunity to recognize their behavior and possibly make some changes. Put a time frame around a trial working relationship and check in to make sure at that time that things are going the way all parties would like them to go. If not, then run as fast as you can. There is almost nothing worse than working for a friend who expects special treatment and is not nice to you while you are doing the work. The key to this is that you are working for yourself and you have the right to choose which clients you want to work with. You are not obligated to work with anybody that you are not comfortable working for.