Are you an independent practitioner? In the US, 1/3rd of the workforce are independents. An amazing proportion to my way of thinking.
One of the advantages -- and at the same time, one of the hazards -- is that you get to fire your boss; and, you even get to select your boss.
A recent article gives a few pointers for the newbie independents -- know when to hold'em; know when to fold'em. You know you've got a bad client when:
- They try to set up the deal at 10pm at night or a weekend... unless you want to work 24x7
- They say it's an easy job they can do themselves.. unless you want to be micromanaged
- You don't really know them and they live in a different country/culture.. some learning required!
- They want to talk about themselves instead of the job task... unless you want to be their counselor
- They say they've tried to get the job done with many others, and they all failed.. so might you!
- Rude, insensitive behavior.. unless you like the bad-ass type
- Those that ask for a miracle, or an unlimited commitment.. unless you give up your independence
One suggestion is to beef up the contract; guard your intellectual property rights (something I really pay attention to) and get a non-refundable down-payment. That one has been a sorting parameter for me. Don't forget the non-poaching clause: your client shouldn't have the freedom to hire your staff.
What's the right wording: "We're not a good fit", or "This job is not a good fit for my skills" (I use that one a lot)
And, if they really insist you take the job, add on a premium for your anticipated trouble!
Check out these books I've written in the library at Square Peg Consulting