This post is part 4 of a series. Read the rest of the series here:
Common mistakes designers make with clients – Part 1: Not signing a contract
Common mistakes designers make with clients – Part 2: Allowing a discount
Common mistakes designers make with clients – Part 3: Burning bridges
Today I’d like to talk about a common mistake designers make with clients that almost all new designers fall prey to: working with family.
Why is this such a common mistake? Because it seems harmless. We love our families. We know our families. And our families know and love us.
And that’s the problem.
Running a business is all about…
You can talk all you want about how much you love your job as a designer and how much you love working for yourself as a freelancer, but at the end of the day, running a business is all about profitability.
If you aren’t making more money than you spend, you aren’t profitable and you won’t stay in business for long.
If you can’t put food on the table, you can’t afford to run your own business and won’t survive for more than a few months.
And more often than not, when you work with family, you end up losing money. Many times family members ask for a discount (ironically, they should be paying you full price if they really understand how much you and your business depend on cash flow). They ask for cheap labor, a discount on printing, or and exchange – “If you design this for me, I’ll wash your car”.
Don’t run the risk of…
A couple days ago, we talked about burning bridges with clients. Imagine if the clients who you end on bad terms with are your family.
Imagine family get-togethers and the awkward feeling that will accompany you if the project turns out poorly. There’s an added level of stress when working for family because it has to end well. There’s no wiggle room, you can’t voice your opinion for fear of offending them, and if it ends sourly, you have to live with the consequences for the rest of your life.
Some designers may be able to pull it off…
Some designers may be able to pull of working for family and do it successfully. But I know that when I get emails about problems designers are facing, many times those emails start with a sentence like “My sister asked me to design something for her business…” and it usually ends with something like “…and since we don’t have a contract, I don’t know what to tell her”.
If you’re new to running a design business, try to avoid working for your family as much as possible. Spend time trying to find other clients that you can be confortable working with.
What do you think?
Do you work for your family? Do you think it’s a good idea or a bad idea for designers to work for their family? Share your opinion by leaving a comment!