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Potential client pushes back start date

Am I still obligated to wait for this?

     
5:43 pm on Jan 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I've been looking for a new job recently and began talking to someone who wanted a pretty large website and database system set up for his business (basically, on a contract basis--this is the first contracting I've ever done). We talked out some preliminary planning on the system, then once I felt comfortable with doing it, we discussed getting started.

We worked out money, and I said that as soon as I could find and train a replacement for me at my current job, I'd be able to start. I emailed him today and he said the project was going to be put on hold "at least a few months".

Would it be acceptable to tell him that if I find another job, that I might not be available for this one in a few months? Or am I obligated to wait it out? I did agree to do it, but under the assumption I'd be starting as soon as I could get on it full-time. It's a good job but I don't want to pass up other possibilities waiting for this to pan out.

5:56 pm on Jan 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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My guess would be that the guy's talking to someone else about the same project, trying to get a better price. I wouldn't hold my breath for the delayed start if I were you, just get on with whatever else u have to do.

By all means tell him that you're not prepared to guarantee your availability, but like I say this could be the thin end of the wedge.

6:14 pm on Jan 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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To be honest, I probably am the best price in this case. I've got the technical knowledge to do it but I don't have a great deal of experience, so I'm much cheaper per hour than going with a big consulting company or an off-the-shelf package.

Actually, though, it seems like it's more likely he's too busy to commit the time to see it through. I did happen to remember that he said he had talked to several other companies/people before me, and while some of those he wasn't satisfied with, a few of those could have just been put off too long.

6:18 pm on Jan 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Well, if I were u, DylanW, I'd be working on some other options right now. One of the number one problems for small to medium businesses is the owners poor time management.

If another fire happens to need putting out, the guy could end up forgetting all about you.

6:27 pm on Jan 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I agree completely with Michael Anthony.

You've got to think about yourself. Sometimes it's hard to be selfish, but that's often what it takes to make it.

Tell them that you might not be available, but that you'll try to work something out when they are ready to begin - this also leaves a moonlighting option available for you, and then look around for other jobs.

7:17 pm on Jan 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Have you signed a contract? Were the prices on the contract? Hopefully your answers are: Yes (contract signed), No (prices on contract).

Now, you can inform him that prices quoted are only valid for 2 months (or whatever). Then if you find another job, you can put the price up if he suddenly decides he wants your work, after the timescale is up. If you don't find another job, you can quote him the same price. And if he wants a guarantee of your price, he'll take you up on the offer within that timescale.

8:52 pm on Jan 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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No written contract, just a verbal agreement. We agreed on a price per hour, and then I said wasn't sure when I'd be able to start, but I'd look into getting someone to take over my current job, then I'd let him know. The implication was that it was going to start as soon as possible.

That's mainly why I was asking, becuase I wanted to know the legality/ettiquete of something like this. I'm not offended, and I don't want to screw him over; it's good job opportunity, it's just I don't want to pass up something just as good but a bit more immediate because I'm waiting for this.

8:59 pm on Jan 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Don't wait, DylanW. The worst that can happen is that u get another offer and then go back to the guy and tell him it's time for him to decide.

He'll not be losing any sleep over this, believe me. And if u wait and he lets you down, you'll wish you'd started looking for alternatives sooner. This is a no-brainer for me, what have you got to lose?

9:25 pm on Jan 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Is your landlord required to wait for your rent?

Then don't wait for this job.

Don't tick them off, just look for other work and ensure they understand you'll do the original job based on your availability.

..... Shane

7:51 am on Jan 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

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DylanW, I make a living completely out of freelancing, and the rule #1 in my book is that your obligations on a project start with the first deposit. NOT any earlier.

Feel absolutely free to focus on other oportunities. When (and if) this guy gets back to you, and you're busy on another project, politely tell him to wait until YOU are ready. This is perfectly normal and not very uncommon.

BTW, in my experience, potential clients who want something big from the start strongly tend to be time-wasters. Serious people, who get things done, prefer to try you on small jobs first.

12:23 pm on Jan 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>> I'm not offended, and I don't want to screw him over

Actually I think you are the one in danger of being screwed over. He said it was on hold for at least a few months. That could mean never. There's nothing tangible there yet, so don't bank on it until there is. You did your part by training your replacement, he's the one that pulled back.

>> Am I still obligated to wait for this?

No.