Client-supplier relationships are a two way street. That means there are clients that should be avoided like the plague, and there are suppliers that should be avoided like the plague.

Following my post on clients to avoid, Matt Curry, an Econsultancy guest blogger, came back with a list of five suppliers that should be avoided, with a focus on agencies and firms.

When it comes to suppliers who are independent contractors/freelancers, here are five more worth running from.

The Entrepreneur

There's nothing wrong with being an entrepreneur, and hiring someone who has started his own business can be really, really advantageous at times. After all, an entrepreneur may be more capable of putting himself in your shoes and applying some of his business acumen to your project. But The Entrepreneur is a little different because he essentially has one eye on his clients and one eye on his own 'ventures'.

That means that you are often a little more than a means to an end: a source of funds to support The Entrepreneur's entrepreneurial aspirations. The problem with this is that you're more likely to get half-arsed service, and to be left hanging once The Entrepreneur gets the opportunity to bail.

Why to Avoid The Entrepreneur: When you pay a contractor, you have the right to expect that he's focused 100% on delivering as promised. Anyone who essentially tells you that he's working for you only because he needs the money to bootstrap his new startup is typically going to be far less likely to come through.

The Flake

Chances are you've met The Flake. Most of us have. He shows up to a project, and then disappears. The early warning signs: emails that aren't answered for days on end, a phone that rings but is never answered and Ferris Bueller-style excuses for delays.

The particularly disappointing thing about The Flake is that when he's not MIA, he might very well do decent work. He just doesn't do enough of it at once.

Why You Should Avoid The Flake: If you hope to finish your project by 2015, you probably don't want to hire someone who seems to have taken The 4-Hour Workweek a little too much too heart.

The Prima Donna

The best contractors are typically as humble as they are knowledgeable. They recognize that their clients pay the bills, and respect them for it.

The Prima Donna, on the other hand, acts like he's doing you a favor by taking on your project and with just about every interaction, he goes out of his way makes you feel like you're a burden on his life. Ironically, this is despite the fact that the Prima Donna tends to overvalue his worth and charge above-average rates for his services.

Why You Should Avoid The Prima Donna: If you think managing a project can be tough, try managing a celebrity-sized personality.

The Mouth

The best freelancers aren't afraid to speak up and share their expertise and opinions with you. But the problem with The Mouth is that he is always speaking up. The end result: you can never get a word in edge wise, which means you can't explain what you need, ask questions, or provide feedback.

Nothing you say can be heard over The Mouth's voice.

Why You Should Avoid The Mouth: You probably won't complete your project satisfactorily when your contractor only has one functioning body part.

The Lazy @*#$!

There are plenty of reasons why a contractor might not come through. The Entrepreneur, for instance, is distracted, and the Prima Donna simply can't think beyond the edge of his own ego.

But it's hard to rationalize the underperformance of The Lazy @*#$!, who miraculously seems to have just enough energy to accept a project and cash a deposit, but who simply can't find the motivation to actually do the work he was hired to do in a timely fashion.

Why You Should Avoid The Lazy @*#$!: If you can't motivate a contractor with a job and money -- particularly in this economy -- chances are you'll need to find someone who isn't in a perpetual state of REM sleep.

Photo credits:

Andrew Feinberg via Flickr.
Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr.
Richard Faulder via Flickr.
AlishaV via Flickr.
noahg via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 3 March, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (3)


Ben Thomas

Loved the post lol if your interested in doing something for our magazine let me know its quite new you have my details or you can skype me smokey1661

over 7 years ago


Mark Knight

I joined Econsultancy yesterday and this is the first thing I read. I hope to God it gets better. It made my blood boil yesterday, so I thought I would leave it a day, but no, I am still fuming.

Every consultant is an entrepreneur you dingbat. Its a monthly battle to bring in business and keep going, and therefore not for the feint hearted. Moreover anyone who has done the full entrepreneurial gambit will make an infinitely better consultant than an MBA grad who has never sold anything in his or her life. I suspect that entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of econsultancy, so why denigrate them like this?

Try applying your myopic logic to the silicon valley model! 'Sorry, entrepreneur, dont want you on my organisation, you might leave, go starve until you have made a success of your life.'


over 7 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy


From your comment, I suspect you read two words -- "The Entrepreneur" -- and nothing more.

As I noted, there are often significant advantages to hiring a person with *legitimate* entrepreneurial experience. But when it comes to someone who is looking at your gig as little more than a pay check and who leaves little doubt that he would jump ship -- project delivered or not -- as soon as he can start his own venture, caveat emptor.

Case in point: I once interviewed a person for a technical gig who within the first five minutes of the interview essentially stated point blank that the only reason he was interested was to tide himself over until he found funding for a new venture that he had run out of money to fund himself. Needless to say, he was passed over and a real professional was hired.

Bottom line: I wish luck to anyone retaining suppliers who lack the professionalism to treat clients like anything more than a payday loan for their other "startups."

over 7 years ago

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