I’ve had a day of high emotion, but thankfully there’s been some top quality liquor nearby to sooth it’s passing. On reflection it’s been an education in the way different people approach business.
I began the day by hosting a very amicable meeting of the Strasbulles 2010 design team. All in French of course, but I got the gist of my responsibilities (albeit unpaid) and agreed a set of goals with my compatriots. I then returned to my PC to read some good news – I had landed a new UK account! An old colleague had followed my movements and pushed a new venture my way. It’s nice to work with old friends particularly on projects that they are passionate about and have the potential to grow into something quite exciting for all concerned. Marvellous. Then it all went downhill…
My PC’s power-supply (which has been on the blink for about a week) finally gave up the ghost, forcing me into a panic back-up of all my open files before the battery ran out. Anticipating this I had already ordered a replacement power-pack but had it arrived? No it had not. I just managed to salvage my email database before it when down, so was able to get a straw business back up and running on my other PC within an hour or so.
I then cracked on with some work for another UK client, and sent through the required documentation to the client once it was finished. Now, this is where it gets complicated, the client in question was actually an old client who was now a client of a client, and I was effectively being subcontracted to do the work I had been doing before. BUT, under, this new arrangement the client of the client had set up a new business (the client) to outsource my position to. This new business (the client) being run by the MD and spouse of the client’s client (i.e. not dissimilar to a house of commons MP employing his or her spouse).
Now, keep up, I was party to writing the contractual arrangement between the client and the client’s client (because that’s when I was still acting for the client’s client, and the client didn’t yet exist) I made sure that the services I would provide to the client’s client (while acting for the client) would 1. meet the client’s client’s needs and 2. ensured that these needs were met without leaving me out of pocket. However (still with me?) when I sent through the work I had done using my own personal email address, and not the client’s, the client’s client (i.e. spouse) called to berate me as if I was still acting for the client’s client.
Until this point I had actually been under the impression that I was the business partner of the client, but the earful that followed (adding to some dubious emails of a similar tone earlier in the week) spelt out that I was nothing of the sort. The client and the client’s client did, after all, share the same house and bed, so it was somewhat unrealistic of me to somehow expect them to let me play an active role in the business.
‘It looks unprofessional’ was the beginning of an exchange which could only have been described as ‘unprofessional’ itself and ended with me hanging up after being told that the eggs I had been sucking for the last seven years – where in fact the property of the client’s client’s grandmother, who the client’s client had taught to suck some years before I had even thought about sucking eggs. Oh yes and that I was charging too much for my egg sucking services – which meant that creaming some cash off of the top to keep for themselves was proving challenging.
Later, after a stiff cognac and a fierce walk through the prettier parts of Strasbourg, I returned home and resigned by email (in theory from my own business). Then, before sitting down to write this very therapeutic blog post, I was emailed by a French client who politely asked for my opinion, which I duly gave in good humour.
Life’s a journey, you learn something every day. Today’s lesson – steer clear of the greedy and corrupt – it will only lead to … more cognac.