Episode 060: How to be treated like a big business when you are not one

As freelancers or consultants we face many obstacles when it comes to being a business, and none more so the problem than larger businesses wanting to treat you like you aren’t one at all. There are times when we have to wonder “would you really be treating me this way if I was a large enterprise corporation?”

David v. Goliath Business

One of the most frustrating parts of dealing with businesses that are more ruthless and hard, is that they know when you are a smaller company and won’t be able to defend yourself against them. They may have a legal team that you cannot complete with, or they may know that the money is more important to you than it is to them, so they can quickly hold you hostage in a way for payment.

There are many ways we discuss during the episode how to discuss this, and each way may work best for you

Make demands

Don’t be afraid to make demands. If you are being held up by a client who is treating you poorly because they don’t think much of you, make a demand for what you need. If they are holding up a payment and also want something else done to complete that payment, make a demand for for payment first, and if you feel nice, include the task as part of post-payment.

No handouts

Don’t give out handouts. When you have a good working relationship with a business client, it is easy to tell that the last 5-10 min. ask isn’t going to impede anything. However the businesses that treat you poorly, well once you give them 5 minutes, they’ll ask for 10, then 20, then next thing you know you are working on a whole new project practically and all because you really want that payment that they may be holding hostage.

Scope Creep

We have whole episodes dedicated to scope creep, but it has to be said that a good scope of work agreed upon prior to working can help mitigate so many of these issues. Still, even I had a locked down scope with my project and was constantly bombarded with new requests outside of that scope just to get my final payment.

Act Like Large Business

Meagan and I had mixed thoughts on this, but I can’t deny that it may help. Acting like you are part of a larger “agency” or business may help you. Start a new business or go sign up for a Business D.B.A which will allow you to even take checks and payments under that business name. While I currently have a business just for taxes and financial reasons, I still sell myself as “Roy Sivan” not my corporation name, which confuses some.

Meagan had another tip if you are going that route, and that is to email from other people within your fake organization. Instead of being “Meagan” she could turn herself into anyone else, as long as the email address had the same domain, it looked like a new person. I realize that this is a tricky situation, and honestly seems like a great slap-stick comedy movie in the making, but it may work for you.

Walking Away

I know it is hard to walk away from money. Something we talked about which I never thought about was writing it off (if you have a business) as a loss on time. Your business is paying you to do the work, if the work is completed and the business was not paid, its a loss. I’m not sure about how this works, so don’t assume that is right, however it makes sense.

Sometimes no matter how hard it is to walk away from the money, no matter the amount, it may be the right move. I know not everyone has a full time job or even a steady consultant income, so walking away form even a few hundred dollars is a big deal. However in the long run you will be happier with yourself. Every situation is different and there is no easy answer to encompasses all scenarios.

It happens

I think no matter how hard you try to vet, and scope, and contract, you are still going to potentially run into those bad clients who just want to take advantage for their own gain. Even if you do have a legal bounding contract, they may know the legal fees included with small claims court just won’t make sense to you, and they’ll see this as a way to pounce on your inability to legal up.


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