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Two freelancers have partnered up who both specialize in different aspects of Web development. They bill the client for all of the work done and then split the profits evenly, so both parties spend an equal share of time working on a particular contract and have equal say in decision making.

While looking for new projects, Freelancer A spotted a potential project online. Freelancer B reached out to the client to learn more about what the project entails and walked away with a bad feeling. The client didn't really seem to know what he was doing and even kept quoting different prices.

After starting work on the project, the client kept adding more and more to the scope, expecting the extra work be done for free. Months later, the two freelancers completed what was outlined in the contract but are still dealing with harassing emails from the client to do even more work for free.

When working with another freelancer, how can we resolve disagreements on what projects to take so that we avoid situations where one person's judgement about a client turned out to be better than another's?

  • Are the two freelancers friends or are they only working together for a particular project? Also, assuming you have already collected payment and the cheque didn't bounce, why would "harassing emails" matter? – Pacerier Oct 10 '15 at 11:20
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I am going to assume that as it currently stands, you are both 50% with your decisions. This is definitely going to be hard to handle initially without some sort of system in place. The earlier it can be addressed, the better.

One caution when working with others on the same level is that if you are friends, you need to put your friendship on hold sometimes for the company; hopefully, you both are mature enough to be friends after work is done.

When people work together, there is always going to be a Leader and a Follower. Even the best of leaders will follow the right leader, and become followers themselves. Point is, there will always be one person who thinks they are "slightly better", and this is where ego comes into play. It's an evil, but still quite unavoidable.

When it comes to business, you need all your personal feelings aside, but you still need to trust your instinct. A growing freelancing business is like a child to you: you want to protect it, and make sure it grows to be a healthy business... Or adult, one of the two. Business decisions can sometimes be hard to make, but once you make them, stick to them. When one partner has a concern, both should talk about it until both are on the same page. If the concern isn't one to get worked up about, then someone will say so and the decision will be made. If the concern is something that would affect your partnership (business, personal relationship, reputation, stress...), then it needs to be dropped as soon as possible.

The point is, you both need to talk about it, and both of you need to respect each other enough to listen to each others concerns or praise, as it deals with your babies, respectively. If a project is going to drain both of you so much that you are willing to destroy your business or drain your bank accounts, you need to see it before it gets too bad.

Hope this helps.

  • Why do you say "there will always be one person who thinks they are slightly better"? Aren't there many examples of people working together as equals (50/50)? – Pacerier Oct 10 '15 at 11:21
  • @pacerier human nature, there is always going to be someone who feels they're the better between two – Canadian Luke Oct 10 '15 at 14:19
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I am afraid you have no many options in the current way of working since you equally own the company and thus you both have the right for a veto.

What you can do is divide weekly time into (a) time you work on joint projects and (b) time you spend on your own projects.

I am not sure how this will work in reality since both your joint and own projects may suffer of slowness. If your own projects are not urgent ones, then you can divide weekly hours by 30:10 (where 10 represents your own projects).

Another option is to implement a rule "one side can impose his project once a month and the other side cannot put veto on it". In such case, you will have to carefully assess the tasks in the project and the other side can choose which tasks he will take. I am emphasising this since the other side will not have energy working on imposed projects so you will be forced to do harder and boring stuff, while another party will do easier and funnier tasks.

This is the model I would accept if I were your partner.

Lastly, you two should think about more important thing. It is "why one side is so willing to accept the project" and "why the other side is so against it". Since IMHO it is not smelling right if two sides are so opposing, not only for their relations (if you're coders, does not mean you're born to work together), but also for the project (maybe there is something really fishy in the project and other side doesn't see it).

PS. In our team there are 4 of us with equal rights, so I am getting inspiration from our own team.

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