Learn to say “No”

All too often i receive emails or inquiries from people on how much would some website that they imagined would cost and how long it would take for me...

All too often i receive emails or inquiries from people on how much would some website that they imagined would cost and how long it would take for me to implement it. Because this blog lately become more popular then ever before, i started to receive even more of these inquiries .  One might say that very good for me, that in these harsh times i receive work offers. But many of these offers will not get any reply from me or get a negative reply. Why is that ?

This is because i’m not willing to take work that will eventually be turning into bad reputation for me or the client. There are two situations in which this might occur:

1) Stealing websites

For example i often get inquires like this:

“Hi. My name is xxxxxx and i’ve seen you build websites with TYPO3. I would like you to build me a website for a client of mine. I’ve seen this site yyyyyyyy and i would like you to copy this site and change the logo and the texts in it. How much would you charge for this ?”

I rarely reply to this kind of emails. That is because i don’t want to say to someone that he is a thief. Copying websites its just plain stealing if you don’t have the owners approval. First time when i said this the client said:  “that website is in Australia, who will check it anyway ?”.  No comment.

2) The “i want Facebook in like a week” approach

The other category of inquiries that i turn down will come with this type of emails:

“Hi. My name is xxxxxx and i want to make a website just like Facebook but better, i want to integrate it with Twitter and also a search like Google would be nice on it. My budget would be 1200 EUROS and i need it in two weeks. Would you be interested ?”

No. Most of the times i’m not interested.  The guys at Facebook worked on it for a few years and Twitter is still having issues under load , Google isn’t matched yet as performance (after being tweaked for ten years) but someone wants to build all that in two weeks.  Ok most of the times its not Facebook, Twitter or Google they want but the situation is the same. They want space rockets built out of thin air.

Ok, i might take the project and work on it for two weeks and get some payment for it. But in the end the client wouldn’t be happy with the fact that the product he could get in two weeks is not the product he dreamed of. I would get bad reputation, he would search for someone else.

So when one of the two situations above occurs i learned to say no to these projects. Because its more important to have good projects that you can be proud of working on then many runaway projects that never get completed, or get completed in a manner that will destroy your reputation.

Also when someone making or requiring an estimation or a quote should take into account that there are 3 types of work:

  • quality work
  • fast work
  • cheap work

Quality work will never be fast and cheap. It will be either fast and expensive (more developer resources) or cheap but slow.

Fast work will never be cheap and quality work. It will be either cheap and miserable or it will be quality work but it will be expensive. Very expensive.

Cheap work will never be quality work and fast work in the same time. It will be either quality work and slow work or it will be fast work but it won’t be of any acceptable quality.

So if you have to choose always choose two from these three: quality, fast, cheap. Its not possible to choose all three of them.

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  • Charles Coleman
    10 June 2010 at 07:37

    Very well put. You have figured out some things that take time and experience. If other web developers are out there who are just getting started… take note. These are words of wisdom and I also speak from experience.