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For the past couple of months I have been consulting an owner of a small company (7 to 8 people) for her online business.

Initially, My involvement was a win win situation. I have learned a lot by helping her company and earning some extra cash and at the same time I have brought her online business into a whole new level. (The sales have gone up significantly in less than 3 months time)

My deal with her is to work for her remotely for only 20 hours a month and meet once a month to review everything.

However, I am having a lot of issues when dealing with her that sometimes it comes to my mind to stop working for her.

Here are the 3 things I dislike about her:

  • She is extremely demanding. (I constantly go beyond the 20 hours of our promise, and yet she is not satisfied and asking to do more and more)

  • She requires lots of communication. She texts me from mornings when I wake up until I want to go to bed asking me lots of things so that I find it hard sometimes to focus on other stuff.

  • She is ungrateful. No matter how much I help her business, she doesn't even bother to say a simple "thank you". To her, as long as she pays, I have to do what she asks!

I am planning to meet her and tell her directly that if she is going to expect this much work and communication from me, I am not open to the idea of helping her anymore. (As much as I like to help her, I don't mind losing her business)

Do you think I can deliver this message in any better or strategic format?

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    The first 2 items in the list of things you dislike are actually billable. Any business owner with some experience will understand this. You are being taken advantage of because you have shown good-will and a willingness to work for free. Jack up your rates and bill for every interaction (preferably through a ticket system). Also it's essential to include training and support as separate line items next time you bid. – teego1967 Jun 21 '17 at 9:43
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    Do you say thank you for being paid? No? Ok, then why should she say thank you for fulfilling your part of the deal? With the other two things, I agree, simply state that you will not be doing stuff for free anymore and that you'll have to bill these extra hours (or that you won't be able to do them). And count every communication as time spent, obviously. – Florian Schaetz Jun 21 '17 at 9:46
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    @JoeStrazzere when referring other sites, it is often helpful to point that cross-posting is frowned upon – gnat Jun 21 '17 at 11:33
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    When I was a freelancer, some customer text me or call me at midnight to share some greats ideas about morning presentation. I never answer or reply at this moment because it tell the customer that you are available and can create an habit. I do not recommended to answer any customer at inappropriate hours. – Sebastien DErrico Jun 21 '17 at 11:38
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    Personally, when a customer contact me at an inappropriate hour, I set my alarm clock at 4:18 am to call them back saying: "I am sorry to miss your call, I woke up because the trash truck just passed in my street and saw that you call me at midnight, I call you back the fastest possible because it is an emergency right?". Customer change his habit to send me email at inappropriate hour instead of calling or texting. Then, I discovered that my smart phone had an app to mute call/text ring notification from some callerID outside of a specific range time. – Sebastien DErrico Jun 21 '17 at 11:41
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You're in this the wrong way. This is a professional relationship; you're not just "helping her", you are working for her, and you are getting paid for it.

Some people are extremely demanding. That's just how it is. However; she is paying you to work a certain number of hours. Do not under any circumstance put in a lot of extra hours for free. When you run out of hours, just contact her and say

"Hey, I've run out of hours for this month. I'll continue next month, unless you'd like to buy some extra work for this month to get it done? I have about [X] time left this month if you need extra time. Or, if you think this'll happen a lot, we can discuss a chance in contract.

Then, if she complains about that, too bad. If she pays for 20 hours, you are under no obligation to put in more just because she demands it.

Likewise, if she contacts you at bad hours, set some ground rules about when you're available. "I'll respond to your questions during business hours" is perfectly reasonable, and you can just turn off your work-phone outside of those hours. (Or ignore her requests if you don't have one, but I'd consider getting one for convenience)

As for being ungrateful; not everyone feels the need to say thank you all the time. Some people are friendlier than others, but at the end of the day she's paying you for the work, so there is plenty of gratitude already.

At this point it sounds mostly like you're being taken advantage of, and you need to start setting professional boundaries. After that, if you still don't like working with her, you could always still end the contract. But you should probably keep in mind that you'll encounter a lot of people you don't like working with, that's part of being a freelancer. You might be better off learning to work professionally with people you don't like.

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She is extremely demanding. (I constantly go beyond the 20 hours of our promise, and yet she is not satisfied and asking to do more and more)

Welcome to work life. I've never seen any environment where there isn't more stuff to do than time to do it. This is perfectly normal and actually not a bad thing. Running out of work means less money. Where you do have to be careful is that you don't do these additional things for free. She pays you for 20 hours - You work 20 hours. It's also important that you don't let her swamp you with trivialities when there are more important things to finish. Offer her to extend your hours when you run out and prioritize items (with her) when it becomes clear that you can't do them all.

She requires lost of communication. Since morning I wake up. She texts me until I want to go to bed asking me lots of thins that I find it hard sometimes to focus on other stuff.

I strongly suggest you find a less demanding channel for your communication like Email or a Ticket System and reserve Instant messages for urgent matters. This allows you to better focus your energy and handle new issues in batch. If she resists renegotiate your deal and add a surcharge for anything that goes through IM/phone calls.

This is something MANY workers and companies struggle with and waste a ton of energy without being aware of it. Unfortunately this is something YOU have to put your foot down if it is impacting your efficiency. Others generally don't care, especially not if you're compensating for the interruptions with free work...

She is ungrateful. No matter how much I help her business, she doesn't even bother to say a simple "thank you" note. To her as long as she pays, I have to do what she asks!

Like others have said: Such is work. You are paid to do a job. Thank you's are nice and a good business person knows to pay the occasional compliment to his workers but it's not really part of the deal you made...

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