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GOLD! Moved to Scottsdale, Growing a Web Design Firm

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bdb

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Great thread, shows how much work you need to put to get results.
You are a very hard working dude and definitely have the attitude to get there.

Thanks a lot for sharing all these details so far.
 

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Really inspiring to read your updates in here and in the fox fb group. I'm probably 6 to 12 months behind you so need to up my game!
 
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GuitarManDan

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Happy New Year Everyone! Received my first payment of 2020 so time to start from scratch with the new numbers and new goals below:

Before getting into that, a few quick notes:

1. I'm really excited about the results I'm getting my biggest SEO client (paying $1500 per month) - just sent them out their monthly report and they've been really happy with the work I've been providing and they've been a pleasure to work with. THESE are the clients I need to get more of. They can easily afford this budget and they are super hands off - they just let me do my thing and ask questions here and there.

2. Starting right now, I'm going to re-listen to Unscripted to get the creative juices flowing for another business goal of mine to decide and commit to an idea for my next business venture by the end of June of this year. Still absolutely no idea what it will be, but I want to make sure I'm in the right headspace when I'm choosing.

2020 Revenue Tracker: $1,500 Revenue / $150,000 Goal

Monthly Recurring Revenue: $3,133 Per Month / $15,000 Per Month Goal
 

Martin.G

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After a year that I started reading your posts, I am surprised how much you improved. This thread is a proof that hard work pays.
 
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GuitarManDan

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Hey Everyone,

Just a few quick updates from my side for what I'm focusing on at the moment to kick things off the right way this year:

1. Newest SEO Client - Really happy with the results even after one month of SEO work for the lawyer client I picked up last month. Sent him over the monthly review and invoiced him the remaining $500 (he only paid a 1/2 deposit for the first month) and then another invoice for $1000 for the following month (and set it up with automatic billing) so once he pays, I won't have to worry about chasing for money each month. He had been burned by another SEO firm in the past so it's nice to be able to deliver here so far.

2. Building out the SEO Clients Pipeline - This week I'm going to pushing pretty aggressively with a long list of former networking connections, clients, and other personal connections I've made for any business that I know I can add value to with SEO. I have a list of around 30 individuals/businesses at the moment and I'm going to take time this week to send out a personalized outreach (whether that's a phone call or email) with the main focuses being on adding value upfront (quick free seo audit) or just genuinely reaching out to former connections I haven't caught up with in a while. I know it's beginning of the year so marketing budgets (although they may not be set yet) are being discussed and reset.

3. General Health / Balance with Work - Anyone who knows me personally knows 2019 was a strange year for me, lots of random medical issues came up... very fortunately none are long-term or serious for the future but due to surgeries, lots of tests, etc it had me staying indoors more than I'd like. I'm making it a big emphasis this year to get to a place where I can regularly go to the gym and get in better shape and be more active. I've been going to a physical therapist and have already seen some fantastic results getting rid of some chronic injuries that were keeping me out of the gym.

4. Next Business Venture - I've been re-listening to Unscripted to start getting some ideas and be in the right frame of mind to lock down my next business idea. I still have a lot of work and research to do, but I'm starting to get some criteria in my head (thanks to Unscripted) that will make it easier to filter ideas through. I will share more details once I'm able to really iron them out and start coming up with those ideas. Because this thread is available on the public side of the forum, I won't be divulging exactly what I'll be doing (I've seen too many horror stories of people unfortunately running into issues when they do that) but I'll aim to be as transparent as possible.
 

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Hey Isaac - Yes sir!
Wow!! I never made the connection...

Dude! Your thread has been a huge source of inspiration for me. And the whole time I had no idea!

It's taken me out of slumps countless times and I even had it bookmarked so that I would read chunks of it daily. It's what pushed me from toying with the idea to really diving in and taking action.

I'd take notes on different approaches you tried and tried it for myself. It's what motivated me to face my fears and get one of my first clients. I'd use the numbers you made to help me believe it was possible. I even read fanatical prospecting at the airport and read it in one flight because of you haha!

Thank you man. I thought you'd like to know how much your posts mean to someone like me.
 
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GuitarManDan

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Wow!! I never made the connection...

Dude! Your thread has been a huge source of inspiration for me. And the whole time I had no idea!

It's taken me out of slumps countless times and I even had it bookmarked so that I would read chunks of it daily. It's what pushed me from toying with the idea to really diving in and taking action.

I'd take notes on different approaches you tried and tried it for myself. It's what motivated me to face my fears and get one of my first clients. I'd use the numbers you made to help me believe it was possible. I even read fanatical prospecting at the airport and read it in one flight because of you haha!

Thank you man. I thought you'd like to know how much your posts mean to someone like me.
Really appreciate the kind words man, I'm glad that it helped out. It's a huge help to me too to keep myself accountable and put my thoughts into words to organize everything when there are a million things happening at once.

I see you're in CA - if you're ever in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area shoot me a message and we'll have to grab a drink or a coffee sometime.
 

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Really appreciate the kind words man, I'm glad that it helped out. It's a huge help to me too to keep myself accountable and put my thoughts into words to organize everything when there are a million things happening at once.

I see you're in CA - if you're ever in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area shoot me a message and we'll have to grab a drink or a coffee sometime.
I'll definitely hit you up if I'm in the area
 
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GuitarManDan

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Hey Everyone,

I've been pretty sick the last few days and although that usually accompanies being miserable, this is the first time I've had one of these typical fever/coughing/fatigue illnesses since I started this business over 2 years ago, and it's making me extremely grateful that I'm out of the Corporate America lifestyle that I remember with this.

When I lived in NYC, it wasn't hard to imagine that between the brutal weather, taking the subway and being exposed to all of those people I passed everyday, and the stress of working crazy hours... I used to get illnesses like these all the time, and it was so damn frustrating when my management would never let us work from home, although everything we needed to do could be done remotely.

I always joked that DayQuil should get a sponsorship from the big investment banks as their official drink... it was insane the toxic culture that was created where people HAD to come into work sick as a dog because it hurt their potential promotions, bonuses, future at the company because they were seen as lazy or not a team player if they worked from home... God forbid they actually took a sick day.

Anyway, I went to the doctor yesterday and got a good laugh when she asked if I needed a note to take a few days off of work.

I feel just so grateful and fortunate that I'm in a spot now where I have the freedom that I thought was impossible just a few years ago. I still have a long, long way to go, but it's been a nice moment to look back and see how far I've gotten from those toxic environments.

Still in rough shape, but feeling good enough to get back to working full days again so I'm jumping back in to continue to work on current projects and to build out that pipeline for more SEO clients. Will keep everyone posted.
 

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Katherine

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Hey Everyone,

I've been pretty sick the last few days and although that usually accompanies being miserable, this is the first time I've had one of these typical fever/coughing/fatigue illnesses since I started this business over 2 years ago, and it's making me extremely grateful that I'm out of the Corporate America lifestyle that I remember with this.

When I lived in NYC, it wasn't hard to imagine that between the brutal weather, taking the subway and being exposed to all of those people I passed everyday, and the stress of working crazy hours... I used to get illnesses like these all the time, and it was so damn frustrating when my management would never let us work from home, although everything we needed to do could be done remotely.

I always joked that DayQuil should get a sponsorship from the big investment banks as their official drink... it was insane the toxic culture that was created where people HAD to come into work sick as a dog because it hurt their potential promotions, bonuses, future at the company because they were seen as lazy or not a team player if they worked from home... God forbid they actually took a sick day.

Anyway, I went to the doctor yesterday and got a good laugh when she asked if I needed a note to take a few days off of work.

I feel just so grateful and fortunate that I'm in a spot now where I have the freedom that I thought was impossible just a few years ago. I still have a long, long way to go, but it's been a nice moment to look back and see how far I've gotten from those toxic environments.

Still in rough shape, but feeling good enough to get back to working full days again so I'm jumping back in to continue to work on current projects and to build out that pipeline for more SEO clients. Will keep everyone posted.
Take care! Health is wealth too. No health no wealth.
 
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GuitarManDan

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Hey Everyone,

Received a few payments from current recurring clients so updating the numbers below! Finally feeling better too and back on my feet so nice to be back at it.

-Newest SEO client paid the $1000 he owes for this upcoming month of work and the remaining $500 from the first month (we agreed to split the first month 50/50 and now it's the full 1k upfront at the start of each month).

-A recurring client paying $333 per month paid automatically as well too.

2020 Revenue Tracker: $3,333 Revenue / $150,000 Goal

Monthly Recurring Revenue: $3,133 Per Month / $15,000 Per Month Goal
 
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GuitarManDan

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Hey All,

Quick update to the numbers below. A $100 per month maintenance and $200 per month SEO reporting client paid in the last few days. Lots of updates to provide, but I'll go into those in a longer post.

Been putting in the effort every day since the start of the year to work on bringing on new SEO clients and get the recurring revenue side of the business increased.

Additionally, working hard to close out the outstanding payments I have from clients of around $14k right now from pending projects (two big projects are almost completely finished, just wrapping up some last minute things).

2020 Revenue Tracker: $3,633 Revenue / $150,000 Goal

Monthly Recurring Revenue: $3,133 Per Month / $15,000 Per Month Goal
 

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Hey Dan,

Have all of your clients been referrals?
 
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GuitarManDan

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Hey Dan,

Have all of your clients been referrals?
Hey man, there have been a lot of referrals and that was most of the business I did last year but there were plenty of new clients from:

-Professional Networking
-Cold Outreach
-Personal Connections
 

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Hey man, there have been a lot of referrals and that was most of the business I did last year but there were plenty of new clients from:

-Professional Networking
-Cold Outreach
-Personal Connections
Networking groups like BNI?
What kind of cold outreach? Cold calling? Cold emailing?

Congrats on your revenue goals!
 
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GuitarManDan

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Networking groups like BNI?
What kind of cold outreach? Cold calling? Cold emailing?

Congrats on your revenue goals!
From my experience networking is a great way to jump start a business but once you have a decent amount of referral partners, it can be difficult to keep up that schedule and do a lot.

With my business, I’m not just doing sales but also doing a decent amount of the production work too so there just isn’t enough hours in the week so I scaled back on networking last year.

I’ve just been going to a once a week one that’s kinda like BNI but not nearly as strict with attendance.

For cold outreach, the only bit I still do is very infrequent and highly targeted cold emails with personalized SEO audits that offer a lot of upfront value.
 

Martin.G

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I read the whole thread a long time before, so I don't remember. Are you thinking to hire people in the future to delegate some work, or the original plan is do all of it by yourself?
 
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GuitarManDan

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Hey All,

Quick update, three different clients paid recurring amounts (one for $1500, one for $333 and one for $1000) - updating the tracker below:

2020 Revenue Tracker: $6,466 Revenue / $150,000 Goal

Monthly Recurring Revenue: $3,133 Per Month / $15,000 Per Month Goal
 
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GuitarManDan

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Hey Everyone,

Been an absolutely crazy few days on my side. First of all, it's been fantastic to have a lot of fastlaners in town that I've been able to meet up with. Here are two recent updates for my business - one challenge and one huge win:

New Client Closed - I sent chasers out to a few prospects I emailed last year for SEO help and one replied back and wanted me to come into the office to do a presentation. It was a financial services firm and the owner was also from NY so I knew it would be a great opportunity to build rapport and learn more about how I could help.

They mentioned they not only want a long-term SEO partner, but also someone to redo their whole site. I presented yesterday, and called them up today and we agreed to:

-$7,000 website redesign
-12 month ($1,500 per month) SEO package

Just sent out the paperwork and invoices (after the CEO and the other partner both agreed and said they were excited to work together and kick things off). I'll update the numbers once those get paid but it should be a 50% deposit ($3,500 for the site) and the $1,500 for the first month of SEO.

Challenging Client - The $16k client that I closed last year has been a real challenge. Luckily we have a contract in place to show exactly what we will be providing. He keeps trying to add in scope creep and although he was happy for 3-4 months in a row, now that we are ready to go live, he keeps adding in these extremely difficult features (that we never discussed before). We've gone way above and beyond to make him happy, but he just keeps demanding more and more.

I've tried to appease him throughout the process, but it's getting to the point now where he's demanding an extremely complicated feature that can't be done, and I when I sent him over an email saying in a professional way it can't be done but here's a workaround, I also mentioned that even if we don't go live, we've completed everything on our part and feel it would be fair to collect the remaining payments... he sent me back this email:

Client Quote: "I'm too pissed to even give you a coherent reply right now. I'll either send you an email in a few days or I'll see you on our weekly call on Tuesday. There is currently no reason to meet on Monday".

He literally just agreed on our call that he was "ready to move forward" and that we were done and we were going to meet on Monday to give him some training on how to get into the back-end and he was going to hopefully cut me a check for the remaining balance.

Any advice on how to handle this would be appreciated, but luckily we're protected 100% legally if he decides not to pay or threatens any legal action (contract states any dispute has to go to arbitration and he has to pay all arbitration and reasonable legal fees). We can clearly show we have delivered everything agreed upon in the contract as well. It's a good learning experience, but it's been challenging.
 

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How do you collect in stages for the website? I've seen people get around that by breaking it up into 4 or so stages and the next stage isn't started on untill payment is collected for it.

Did you do 50/50 in this case?
 
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How do you collect in stages for the website? I've seen people get around that by breaking it up into 4 or so stages and the next stage isn't started on untill payment is collected for it.

Did you do 50/50 in this case?
Hey Matt,

For this specific case, I did a breakdown where the last few payments are:

-$3200 when the site goes live (it's been live for months now but he doesn't consider it "done")
-$3200 thirty calendar days after it's been live

We still haven't collected either of these and he's being very unprofessional and difficult at this point. Going to definitely be a challenge.
 

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Damn... just curious, why 30 days after for final stage? Did he request that?

Sounds like some kind of small claims tribunal thing but at least you are covered.

Does he have access to it yet? Can always just take it down till paid.
 
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Hey Everyone,

Had a great first day at the Fastlane Summit, was great to put faces to names. It also was a big day for the business. My biggest sale so far went through while I was watching the presentations at the Summit.

The new client signed contracts and paid the invoices for the deposit on the website and for the 1st month of SEO ($3500 for the site deposit and $1500 for the SEO first month).

One big goal I have this year is to come up with the next idea that would be much more scalable and wouldn't be attached to my time and I've already thought up a few different ideas after listening to the amazing presentations today.

Updating the numbers below:

2020 Revenue Tracker: $11,466 Revenue / $150,000 Goal

Monthly Recurring Revenue: $4,633 Per Month / $15,000 Per Month Goal
 

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Hey Everyone,

Just wanted to say thanks to MJ and Allen and everyone who worked to put together the Fastlane Summit, it was fantastic meeting everyone that I spoke to this weekend.

From the presentations and the networking between/after the main event, I learned so much and am already thinking of ways to implement those right away.

I'm not going to get into specifics for now, but I'm going to take part of this afternoon and this week to start looking for leads online and make a list to reach out. Basically going to implement strategies I've already been using / skills I already have to start targeting much larger deals and going to target a very specific type of client.

Worst thing that happens is the companies say no or they don't respond at all, but the upside is huge and one deal could easily make my whole year.

Probably the biggest takeaway that I got from the Summit is seeing the same patterns of characteristics/approaches that all of the fastlaners who found success have. It showed me my own blind spots and it will help me double down on things that I've been doing right so far.

I'm going to hit the ground running and work to avoid the common pitfall of going to a conference, feeling great, and then taking no actions.

Will keep everyone posted on how that's going plus the current client work / business!
 
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Hey All,

One thing I really strive for with my progress thread here is to be as transparent and open as possible - for the wins and the challenges that happen, and the past week has been a big challenge and very stressful on my side. I wanted to go through the situation and share what I've learned so far.

For those who have been following, you'll remember the $16k project that I closed late last year. Since it was a bit more complex than I personally could do, I outsourced to a trusted web designer who runs his own 6 figure business specializing in e-commerce sites.

He's been an absolute pleasure to work with and has gone above and beyond, but the client is another story. To be honest, all of the warning signs were there - huge red flags everywhere (even though this client was a referral). There was a lot of back and forth, and I basically only agreed to work with this guy because we had a very specific contract (that gave me A LOT of protections/safeguards) and because he had a relatively big budget so it was a good opportunity to learn how to act as a project manager.

3 months or so into the project, the client was very happy, and was even complimenting us which was surprising because he's a pretty tough guy to deal with. We were ready to go live, we deleted the test data and all of a sudden he froze up and started making up super complex edits that we never agreed to and complaining about the most random small details.

We went above and beyond to help out, and for the very complex items that we didn't agree to, we worked with him for workarounds, but the edits didn't stop. He'd agree to "final edits" and then come back with 50 more new ones.

It got to a point where we needed to put our foot down, as he was talking down to us and not being a team player at all - it was his way or nothing. He said let's just do one more final round of edits and we agreed and that's when things really took a turn. The final edits were done so I sent an email saying let's collect the final payments now and we're all set and that if he needed anymore complex edits (since the requests didn't stop) we would need to charge extra budget.

He sent back a nasty email and then followed it up with an email to me saying I needed to:

-Fire the developer
-Get a new developer
-Start over again

And then ended it with a lovely threat saying "the future of my business depends on it".

That's the point when I contacted my contract lawyer and paid for an hour consultation to go through everything. Fortunately, she said the contract I had in place is solid and that even if he tries to sue or if we have to bring him to collections, the contract states the client has to pay all legal fees (for both sides).

I basically worked with my attorney to draft an email back to his ridiculous demands saying that we had completed our part of the contract, went through line by line for the agreed-upon scope/functionality of the contract to show we've done our part, and then said he had 48 hours to review and pay or we would have to pull the site, which the contract allows us to do. It's been 72 hours or so and we took the site down, he has read the email but hasn't responded yet (most likely speaking to his lawyers).

Just for context, I've been working with @Fox and others who are much better at handling difficult client situations like this, and even most of them have agreed this guy is just a huge red flag and that I need to make sure I'm protected legally, so that's what I'm doing.

Anyway, this seems like one of those things that are going to get worse before they get better. He still owes us $6.4k and I still have about $2.5k left I need to pay my developer. The goal here is to just get him to pay without going to any type of trial and then ending the relationship with this client.

It's just been stressful as in 2+ years of running this business, I've never had any clients get anywhere near this level of escalation. Additionally, my contractor has been in business 10+ years and never has either.

The biggest things I've learned from this:

1. The importance of having good contracts in place that protect you from situations like this. I paid a good contract lawyer to help modify my web design and seo contracts. I knew the chance I'd actually need to enforce them is very low, but still huge in situations like these.

2. Trust your gut, I knew right away this guy was a huge red flag. Always a good lesson to reinforce to avoid these types of clients.
 
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Katherine

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Hey All,

One thing I really strive for with my progress thread here is to be as transparent and open as possible - for the wins and the challenges that happen, and the past week has been a big challenge and very stressful on my side. I wanted to go through the situation and share what I've learned so far.

For those who have been following, you'll remember the $16k project that I closed late last year. Since it was a bit more complex than I personally could do, I outsourced to a trusted web designer who runs his own 6 figure business specializing in e-commerce sites.

He's been an absolute pleasure to work with and has gone above and beyond, but the client is another story. To be honest, all of the warning signs were there - huge red flags everywhere (even though this client was a referral). There was a lot of back and forth, and I basically only agreed to work with this guy because we had a very specific contract (that gave me A LOT of protections/safeguards) and because he had a relatively big budget so it was a good opportunity to learn how to act as a project manager.

3 months or so into the project, the client was very happy, and was even complimenting us which was surprising because he's a pretty tough guy to deal with. We were ready to go live, we deleted the test data and all of a sudden he froze up and started making up super complex edits that we never agreed to and complaining about the most random small details.

We went above and beyond to help out, and for the very complex items that we didn't agree to, we worked with him for workarounds, but the edits didn't stop. He'd agree to "final edits" and then come back with 50 more new ones.

It got to a point where we needed to put our foot down, as he was talking down to us and not being a team player at all - it was his way or nothing. He said let's just do one more final round of edits and we agreed and that's when things really took a turn. The final edits were done so I sent an email saying let's collect the final payments now and we're all set and that if he needed anymore complex edits (since the requests didn't stop) we would need to charge extra budget.

He sent back a nasty email and then followed it up with an email to me saying I needed to:

-Fire the developer
-Get a new developer
-Start over again

And then ended it with a lovely threat saying "the future of my business depends on it".

That's the point when I contacted my contract lawyer and paid for an hour consultation to go through everything. Fortunately, she said the contract I had in place is solid and that even if he tries to sue or if we have to bring him to collections, the contract states the client has to pay all legal fees (for both sides).

I basically worked with my attorney to draft an email back to his ridiculous demands saying that we had completed our part of the contract, went through line by line for the agreed-upon scope/functionality of the contract to show we've done our part, and then said he had 48 hours to review and pay or we would have to pull the site, which the contract allows us to do. It's been 72 hours or so and we took the site down, he has read the email but hasn't responded yet (most likely speaking to his lawyers).

Just for context, I've been working with @Fox and others who are much better at handling difficult client situations like this, and even most of them have agreed this guy is just a huge red flag and that I need to make sure I'm protected legally, so that's what I'm doing.

Anyway, this seems like one of those things that are going to get worse before they get better. He still owes us $6.4k and I still have about $2.5k left I need to pay my developer. The goal here is to just get him to pay without going to any type of trial and then ending the relationship with this client.

It's just been stressful as in 2+ years of running this business, I've never had any clients get anywhere near this level of escalation. Additionally, my contractor has been in business 10+ years and never has either.

The biggest things I've learned from this:

1. The importance of having good contracts in place that protect you from situations like this. I paid a good contract lawyer to help modify my web design and seo contracts. I knew the chance I'd actually need to enforce them is very low, but still huge in situations like these.

2. Trust your gut, I knew right away this guy was a huge red flag. Always a good lesson to reinforce to avoid these types of clients.

Yucks. This is terrible. Sometimes red flag don't show up until much later too. You did your part. Hope you get your payment in soon!
 

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