Notorious B.I.G. – 10 Freelancer Commandments

freelancecommandmentsToday marks the 14th anniversary of the Notorious B.I.G. passing. To celebrate the life of a rapper whose flow and used of his vocabulary was second to none, I want to decode one of his songs… in an unusual way.

“The 10 Crack Commandments” was actually a song which was inspire by a magazine article from The Source. B.I.G. in turn took the commandments and made it into a song. And when you really think about it, those same commandments could lead you to a business degree.

Calmatic: CrackRoc from CALMATIC on Vimeo.

As I listened to the 10 Crack Commandments throughout the years, I notice that I can apply the “step-by-step booklet” to my every day life, especially while I’m working. Sure, some of these rules I’ve broken, but most of it I managed to follow through and agree with.

So, along with B.I.G., follow me so you can “get your game on track / not your wig push back”

Rule nombre uno: never let no one know
how much, dough you hold, cause you know
The cheddar breed jealousy ‘specially
if that man fucked up, get your ass stuck up

As a freelancer, never tell people how much money you are making from with any client, especially if they can’t relate with what you actually do and tell you to “get a real job”. You would also want to make it part of the agreement you have with your clients that they do not show how much they are paying you to other people. Keeping an open-end price model will prevent you from being trapped when they refer people to you.

Number two: never let em know your next move
Don’t you know Bad Boys move in silence or violence
Take it from your highness (uh-huh)
I done squeezed mad clips at these cats for they bricks and chips

Never broadcast your plans or ideas, especially if nothing is concrete. Spilling information before hand could be costly… or make you look like an ass if you can’t pull it off.

Number three: never trust no-bo-dy
Your moms’ll set that ass up, properly gassed up
Hoodie to mask up, shit, for that fast buck
she be layin in the bushes to light that ass up

While I am not encouraging paranoia or micro-managing, trust your instinct when it comes to your projects, work, clients and co-workers. Use tact when discussing things with your clients.

Number four: know you heard this before
Never get high, on your own supply

For this rule, I decode it in two different ways:

  1. Always remain humble. Too much ego-boosting can make you lose focus.
  2. If you’re going to use your own service, do it as a user, not as a supplier. Set your own deadlines and make sure you stick to them.

Number five: never sell no crack where you rest at
I don’t care if they want a ounce, tell em bounce

Freelancers tend to work at home most of the time. However, never let your client visit your home base. Also, never let it “sound” like a home base either. For freelancer’s working online, this is pretty easy. But for freelancers who must meet their clients, always set up another meeting place… even if it’s their home.

Number six: that god damn credit, dead it
You think a crackhead payin you back, shit forget it

Always get a deposit from new clients. Any new client that promises money later is not worth the time.

Seven: this rule is so underrated
Keep your family and business completely seperated
Money and blood don’t mix like two dicks and no bitch
Find yourself in serious shit

Speaking from experience working with external family businesses, I never met one family business where everyone gets along. When you work with people outside your family, it’s easier to fire them or talk to them sternly if they are slacking up.

So, in the hiring order, family members should only be an extreme last resort. Last thing you want to do is to fired the very person that you’re going to see at the dinner table later on.

Also, refrain from accepting projects from your own family. If you have to, tell them the conditions you’ll do it under and stick to it.

I would say “do not discuss business with family,” but that’s something I handle on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes, I want to show my off my portfolio to them, but I won’t talk about how much I make.

Number eight: never keep no weight on you
Them cats that squeeze your guns can hold jobs too

Now, this line refers to “keeping drugs on you”. Let’s reword “drugs” with “client’s projects”.

You’ll want to invest in backing up your client’s projects. If you are walking around with your laptop, you will definitely want to back it up to an external source. Speaking from experience, this is my second laptop. My first laptop got stolen along with the original laptop bag. The bag had the original software, the manuals, AND the external hard drive in addition to the laptop. All of my original work for myself, clients as well as chances of even keeping my old operating system (I had a Windows 7 Ultimate Signature Edition, a copy that was given to me by Microsoft for totally free) was gone.

You should also make sure passwords and sensitive data is encrypted.

Number nine shoulda been number one to me
If you ain’t gettin bags stay the fuck from police (uh-huh)
If niggaz think you snitchin ain’t tryin listen
They be sittin in your kitchen, waitin to start hittin

Simply put, the company you keep can and will make you look bad. While you may think your client might be open minded, at the end of the day, it’s a business. Bring only professionals to the table that will help you advance. Otherwise, it’s death by association.

Number ten: a strong word called consignment
Strictly for live men, not for freshmen
If you ain’t got the clientele say hell no
Cause they gon want they money rain sleet hail snow

This rule refers to consignment, or the client giving you some inventory (sometimes in a very large amount), but under the agreement that you sell it off and share the the profit with them. In the freelancer’s world, every single project is a consignment.

If you are starting off, you probably do not want take a project that you KNOW you can’t do.

If you don’t have the capabilities to do a project in an orderly fashion, it’s best to admit it and keep it moving.

In my experience, I’ve taken on projects that I fully know I can’t do before hand. However, since I’m experienced and apply a Parkingson’s Law technique that I developed, I am able to not only do projects that I have no business doing, I gain new skills in the process.

Follow these rules you’ll have mad bread to break up

If you follow these rules… as well as learning from your mistakes and read other sources, you’ll always find work.

Allow me to keep it real for a minute; Freelancing is not for everyone. There’s times when I would want to quit because I can’t find new work or the projects I’m currently doing isn’t worth doing to me.

On the same coin, I rather take things into my own hands, like how B.I.G. took things into his own hands when having to deal crack to survive. We both are one of the same, just took two different paths.

While freelancing is hard to start, it’s better than crack-dealing.

Not to mention… it’s actually legal and your chances of getting shot up is greatly reduced.

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