Why I am Terrible at Doing Business

Last Monday, my sister-in-law clogged her kitchen sink. After her husband tried to snake it unsuccessfully, he called a local plumber. When I asked them about the price, I was stunned. The plumber charged them $600 (with $100 discount) to unclog it. The process probably took less than half an hour.

Last Friday, a long-time client’s website broke. They asked me for help. After checking out their site, I predicted something went wrong with the SSL certificate. The browsers kept throwing out the unsafe warning. It took me several hours to figure out what happened. It turned out that their hosting provider had changed the DNS. The host sent out a notification, but my client ignored it. They didn’t realize it would affect their site. The host also installed a SSL self certificate, which caused the browsers to freak out.

I updated the DNS and replaced the self certificate with a Cloudflare certificate (Cloudflare rocks). When I fixed the issues and notified them, they simply replied with “thank you” without mentioning any compensation. I sat on it for a day and decided to send them the bill for my work. If a plumber charged $700 to fix an urgent issue, I shouldn’t feel bad charging the client for the time I put in. If the issues could be fixed in half an hour or less, I wouldn’t charge my client, especially if the client is just an individual. This particular client, however, is a small business. They can easily pay for the time I had spent fixing their website. I sent them the bill and they had no issue paying for it.

I am suck at doing business. That’s why my freelance gig hadn’t gone too well. I thought of doing freelance full time, but I will definitely fail. I don’t have the business mentality in me. I take on freelance projects because I am passionate about web design. I just don’t like the business side of it. I hesitated to charge for my services. When people charged me for their services, on the other hand, they showed no mercy.

I need to step up my game. If I am going to provide the services, I might as well get the pay I deserve. I didn’t charge $700 even for the several hours I spent. My price was very reasonable. I often hesitated to call a technician to the house because they would charge a ridiculous fee. As a result, I tried to fix it myself first via YouTube. A couple of years ago, a plumber inspected my house and recommended I replace three toilets. They were going to charge me $600 to $700 to replace each. I couldn’t afford to pay two grants to replace them and they were still working fine. I replaced one myself because it kept clogging up and I got tired of plunging it. I did it for the first time and the process was easy. A decent toilet cost around $150 to $200 and they were going to charge me $500 to $550 for an hour to replace a toilet. That’s simply crazy. I do not want my clients to feel that way; therefore, I tried to make it as fair as possible so my clients do not feel they were being ripped off.

I wish I could make the amount of money that I don’t have to to worry about paying for these types of services. I recalled the founder of Slack talked about the levels of wealths. The first level is when you don’t have to worry about paying bills like student loans and credit cards. The second level is when you don’t have to worry about the price at the restaurants. The third level is when you don’t have to worry about the price when you take vacations and travels. I don’t know where home-fixing services fit in, but they give me anxiety. Imagine if you make $10 an hour and you have to pay $700 for half an hour to unclog your kitchen sink. How do you justify something like that? I would just order from McDonald’s dollar menu until the damn sink unclogs itself.

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