Hey guys. I am in a situation where I need to decide wether to take on a new project or not. And if not, how to turn down that client so that I would not burn any bridges. So I need your opinions on this matter in order to make the final decision.

To make things clear heres some background info. 10 months ago I quitted my fulltime position in another EU country and went back to my own home country. 10 months forward till today and I have my own ltd company which currently has 5 projects. Its doing pretty well money wise. All projects combined, I already earn more then I ever did and I need to work max 10 hours a week since all projects are remote projects so I dont waste time on useless meetings and etc. However I dont feel fulfilled or challenged anymore because surprise surprise doing well paid projects doesnt guarante your sense of fulfillment.

So I noticed that I have lots of spare time which I spend diving into rabbitholes with hobby projects. I decided that its time to scale my company and take on more projects and maybe even hire more people.

So I started searching for other projects I could work on (prefferibly remote projects or flexible ones where I could come in 2-3 days a week in office and work remotely rest of the week). Reason being that I am already out of sync with fulltime position lifestyle and I am totally result oriented, not punch in my hours and go home oriented.

For exampleIf i get my weekly tasks I prefer to do them in 1-2 days (even if it requires doing double shifts which rarely but happens) but then I want to have rest of the week off. Thats how my brain works and thats how Im wired. I cant stand fulltime positions especially in enterprise bigger companies where I come in and do maybe 2 hours of actual work everyday because of all useless meetings and blockers from backend/etc. Its soul crushing to me.

So I posted linkedin ads and started searching for new clients/projects. One month ago I went to an interview for an android project in a startup.

The project looked interesting enough. Main task was to rewrite their android app from java to kotlin. Apparently their current current app was built by a backend developer who wants to focus solely on backend.

So during the interview they showed me their app which was quite simple frontend wise but not so simple backend wise from what I was able to figure out.

Their project lead (also a backed guy) asked me my estimation of price and completion of task. I told them maybe 2-3 months to do everything properly.

Project lead was basically shocked because all other candidates told him they can rewrite the app from java to kotlin in 2-3 weeks. I told him that everything is possible but his app quality will suffer and for a better estimation he would we would need to sign an NDA so I could evaluate the costs. So we ended the interview.

After that we kept in touch for one month (it took them one month to google a generic NDA and sign it digitally with me).

So heres the redflags I noticed:

1. They dont respect my time. Wasted 1 month of my time and after signing NDA gave me 2days to estimate their project and go to a meeting and give them detailed info about what I can offer. I thats not a brain rape then I dont know what it is

2. They are changing initial conditions we talked about. We agreed on rewriting the codebase and be done with it. Now they prefer a fulltime worker who would be responsible for android app as his own product. So basically project lead was not able to find a fulltime dev so now hes trying to convert me (a company owner) to his fulltime worker.

3. Lack of respect. During the interview he started speaking in his own native language to me with some expression (he seemed pissed off at that moment when he switched languages).

4. Bad culture fit. As I said Im used to relaxed clients and projects where I dont need to be chained to a desk a monitored and be micromanaged. I mean lets sign a contract give me access to your codebase and tell me what to do, I will produce results and lets be done with it.

5. Project lead is a backend guy who doesnt understand how complicated android apps can be. No architecture and no unit tests are in his frontend app. He doesnt care about writing proper app since he ships it in his own device so he doesnt need to worry about supporting custom devices or different api levels of android and etc. But not having any architecture? Cmon.

So basically I am confused. Project lead needs a fulltime dev but hes in contact with me in hopes that I would sign a fulltime contract. But how I can work fulltime if all what I can see are redflags?

Basicaly I thinkthis was a misundersanding. Im searching for fulltime remote projects and hes offering fulltime inhouse projects. Project lead never outsourced so hes confused as well.

As you can see decision is already basically made to turn him down, I just need to know how to tell him to fck off in the most polite manner and thats it.

  • 1
    I cant really give you advice aside from android studio has a "convert java to kotlin" option so you could have said 2 days
  • 2
    The easiest way out would be explaining that you have to lead your company and would be happy to accept a project, but that would not be possible as fulltime on-site dev because then you would not have time for leading your company and the other projects anymore.

    Which is why you asked for a remote deal in the first place.

    An elegant way to decline the customer for on-site would be explaining the associated business risk for your company, which you would need to factor in with the price. Hinting that you'd make the on-site calculation so expensive that the customer could only turn it down.

    That's inverse mafia style: making an offer that he cannot accept.
  • 2
    Actually, I have seen that move in action when I was at a big company, and a supplier for something was asked whether they could deliver some things that were not really in their portfolio.

    They quoted TEN TIMES the market price, and they were gambling for the big company to buy these things somewhere else, which is what happened.

    But even if not, their backup plan would have been to subcontract it to some other supplier, which would have been easy given the margin resulting from the overblown calculation.
  • 2
    Are you a fan of game theory? The answer is stop trying to be nice ;) save niceness for us here.
  • 1
    @tekashi You didnt even see codebase and you are saying converting java to kotlin codebase takes 2 days? For your information their app has 300 java classes and has zero multithreading, no architecture pattern, no unit tests and bunch of memory leaks. At this point rewriting to another language has no fking point if you dont change architecture while youre doing it. However main problem is that they are not aware of extra costs and believe that if it works then ship it principle.
  • 2
    @zemaitis That's just another part where you can force your own position. Your unique selling point is delivering supreme quality, so that's where you want to position your company in the market. Delivering jerry-rigged stuff would hurt your branding, so you you'll be afraid you won't be able to do that.

    Once you've pointed out the observed issues to the customers, he'll understand why you'd need that time to make it properly. If he instead wants botched up, cheap stuff, he can buy elsewhere.

    Just like Porsche won't sell you cheap and shabby ones because that would devalue Porsches for their existing customer base.
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