The dignified loser

When I was taking my business law back in the Graduate School, our professor introduced me to the term, industrial partner. As defined, the industrial partner is a member of a company whose contribution evolves only on services, instead of money and property. He told us that in cases when the officers of the company will face legal monetary charges (pardon the inappropriate term), the industrial partner becomes free from any liability. This can be explained by the nature of the industrial partner’s contribution. Any service rendered can never be returned or recovered.

This rationale of the industrial partner made me felt a slight punch on my face. The idea is people who are engaged in services are more prone to end up in a worst off position. Considering my personal experience, allow me to explain things.

Those who know me well or were at least reading my previous posts are aware that I accept freelance works in the form of research writing and consultation. What I earn from my freelance work is just enough to fatten my very slim savings account, a pair of shoes or a well deserved monetary gift for my parents. I started gaining clients after I finished my MBA and when I started teaching. In one way or another, I was able to establish some credibility from teaching and perhaps from the words of my previous clients as well.

As much as I love the tasks involved in every freelance job, another aspect of the job I should equally love are my clients. I may not be the best in the field but I exert all means to serve them well and foster the best professional relationship.  I know that my clients are the  lifeblood of my freelance work, but they are never my God. I respect each client but I don’t go to the extent of worshiping them. If worst comes to worst, (which almost but never happened to me yet) I’ll play it by “part.” I’ll finish my part and after this, let’s forever part ways.

I respect my clients regardless of who they are. Whether the client is older or younger than me, I treat them equally. I do the job and submit everything before our agreed deadline. Once the work is done, this is where a critical issue comes in.

When the service provider completes the task, it’s but proper that he is compensated. It’s a business principle that is assumed to be known by everyone. Assumed!  It pains me to accept that such word sometimes complicates the situation. When something is only assumed, should we not expect that it is bound to happen all the time?

Late last year, one of my relatives approached me to assist the husband’s thesis. Filipino culture dictates that we are relatives, I didn’t present my usual professional fee. But since they insisted and even asked for my bank account number, I told them the modest amount I charge.  I never expected to be paid but here’s the catch, the husband promised to deposit payment to my bank account. Months passed, I never heard any word from the wife and husband again. I saw them in a recent family reunion and to their avail, they ignored my presence and rendered that classic “dedmatology” (ignore a person) attitude.

Setting aside the monetary issue, my point is when you promised something, DO IT instead of BRAGGING IT. I also believe that fulfilling promises qualifies as a business principle.  You don’t even need to enroll to a prestigious Catholic university to learn that.

Recently, I was happy to accept another set of research writing jobs. Though we have very limited time to finish everything, God knows how many hours of sleep I forgo to serve them well. I told them my rate, they agreed, I made the job and here I am left hanging in the tree of uncertainty.

Being greedy for money is the last thing I want people to remember me. Whenever I accept freelance jobs, I tell them my rate and the extent of services I can render for them. Other than that, I leave everything to the client’s will. I don’t even implement the exact terms of payment. My principle is plain and simple, a service rendered deserves due and proper compensation. Once I’m done with the job, settle your responsibility too. It makes no difference in getting a hair cut. Once the stylist is done, you pay to the cashier and leave. Business is closed. Everything is mutual and equal. You don’t run away from a salon, spa or a restaurant. You wouldn’t want to be called as a shameless swindler, especially in front of other people. Service rendered, payment received. Simple yet it appears to become complicated for some clients.

Whenever a client decides to leave me after the work, I have nothing to held on. Since I’m doing everything for freelance, I don’ t usually implement contracts and everything. I treat every client as a decent and honorable professional. Hence, being the educated people they are, I assume they know how to carry out their responsibility. But the sad part is,  not all  educated clients are honorable enough to abide  with professional agreements.  When a client refuses to adhere with the principle of honor and respect, what can I do? If client has the shameless balls to dishonor, deceive and enslave me, what can I do? Can I retrieve my services? Can I tell client to return my report? What will I do with the report anyway?

I guess this is one thing I have to bear with my job. Part of being a service provider is the chance of becoming oppressed by an educated acting uneducated client. At the end of the day, though I ended up as the worst off slave, I know I did my part. I can walk away with my head help up high because I know that I’m the dignified loser.


9 thoughts on “The dignified loser

  1. That’s one difficult situation to find yourself in. Some people may not understand but the cost of freelance writing extend even to the writer’s health, as in my case before. For clients to just ditch you afterwards, I mean, does an agreement have to be written to guarantee fulfillment?

    Anyway, I know a legitimate site where your talent could not go to waste Diane. It’s essentially freelance writing but you’re working with a company so both sides get protection. The site is:

    Do tell me if this helps… 🙂

      • Yes, I am. But not currently. I have just asked for my membership to be cancelled because I don’t have the time and let’s admit it, I suck at the job. Maybe someday I’d reactivate my account with them.

        You should try it! Some of the projects are really well compensated and you’re a researcher, you definitely have an edge. 🙂

  2. No, Diane! If I may offer some advice: There should always, ALWAYS be a contract. Don’t worry, people do expect it now (well, except for some relatives but let’s not go there, hehe) so beware of any potential client who acts ‘offended’ when you mention it. Just have a pro-forma one and when you present it to them, act like it’s the most natural thing and that you’ve been doing that for all your clients since Day One. 🙂

    Goodluck and here’s to more and better (-paying) clients for you. 🙂

  3. Now I can have a comeback for when people would refer to me as a loser, kidding or not. I love this piece, Diane. It shows how brilliant a person you are not just in the head. 🙂 Hats off. And I second Tita Bud’s well-wish.

  4. I don’t know anything related to business–or if I do, it’s really just embarrassing small details– what I am going to say is not related to anything business-y: I am impressed by the way you can detail business related ideas without sounding too technical; there is a sense of prose to it. I quite like it.

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