An old Chinese proverb says (Que Karate Kid master voice) “Fast, Cheap or Quality – pick 2.” Ok, maybe that isn’t an old Chinese proverb but it is most certainly dead on. Simply put, some clients will want the world. They’ll want your services fast, they’ll want your services cheap and they’ll want your services quality. The problem with this expectation is that it’s impossible to get. If you do get it, it’s either from a unicorn designer/developer or the person who achieved such greatness has nothing left to give after expending every ounce of creative energy, perfection and care without earning his or her due reward. Let’s dive into this a little further:


You can pick any 2. Why?

  • FAST service CHEAP won’t be QUALITY
  • QUALITY service CHEAP won’t be FAST
  • QUALITY service FAST won’t be CHEAP

A client who expects all three is:

  1. A client that you should really consider whether even working with.
  2. Someone who obviously hasn’t put their self in your shoes.

What if this client asked themselves “How would I feel if my client asked me to do this?” Well they haven’t. Otherwise they wouldn’t expect you to do so, so let’s move on.

This will happen and has happened to me countless times. As a self admitted “people pleaser,” this can be a difficult position. Wanting to please everyone, to make the world a better, happier place can be a very noble ideal but at some point you have to get real. I came to a point not that long ago where I had to step back and really ask myself….”Is this client draining me? Hurting my quality of work for other clients and prohibiting my business from potential growth?” If you have to ask that question, then the answer is yes. No matter how hard it may be or awkward, depending on the situation of the client, do what you have to do in order to keep your sanity and grow your business. (I’m sorry if it’s a relative or close family member, maybe just sit at the other side of the Thanksgiving table this year).

Seriously, this can be a make or break issue for a business owner, especially a people pleasing business owner. It’s interesting because the very same people pleasing trait that allowed me to produce so many happy clients was also the same trait that, at one point, was killing me and keeping me up at night while draining my optimism and creative energies. No, I’m sorry to say that in life, you can’t please everyone. In fact if you’re successful you may be disappointing far more people than you are pleasing. The question becomes not how many people can you keep happy, it’s who’s happiness is your priority. This is applicable in business and in personal life as well. As I’ve matured and grown in my time as a business owner, leader, designer and developer, my priorities have changed dramatically.

When I started In Transit Studios, my priorities were as such:

To make every client happy as can be no matter what the cost and to please everyone around me and give myself out as much as possible to increase my network and grow my business. Though perhaps there was some good in having that determination at the start, I’ll be the first to say that I drained myself completely more often than not and thankfully did not have a family to provide for at the time.

Now, recently married and starting a new season in life, my priorities look something like this:

Make those who are most important to me happy. Wife, family, close friends and colleagues. Keep myself balanced, sharp and excited about business as well as maintaining strong relationships and producing quality work for the clients whom benefit from me as well as I benefit from them. Keep room mentality and relationally to grow for networking, new clients and new colleagues. Make time for working and thinking.

The big goal as an entrepreneur or business owner is to be able to work ON the business as well as IN the business. If you do mediocre-work at best for mediocre-at-best clients, you’ll end up being an overworked, underpaid, struggling business owner who will increase the statistic of business failing within 5 years.

So, that is why I urge you to tell your clients; “Fast, Cheap or Quality – Pick 2!”

Cheers to a better, happier, balanced life and getting rid of some bad clients who’ve been draining you for far too long!