Just The Tip: What To Do When You Hire Them And…They Suck.

IN: Hard Stuff

So you started a business and before you knew it you were regularly lip syncing to Gaga while kicking ass, taking orders, AND taking names—which, for the record, I hear is a mafia term. Isn’t that delightful?

Suddenly, you found yourself with an extra $5 and immediately shouted to no one in particular, “I’m going to reinvest in my business!” before promptly hiring a charming cadre of web designers, copywriters, app developers, business coaches, and anyone else you could think of to give money to.

And that’s when it happened.

The guy you hired to do your website apparently honed his design skills in pre-school, the copywriter you hired used the word “juicy” on every page, the app developer has been too busy trimming his beard to call you back, and your business coach just keeps telling you to “breathe”—as if your bottom line was doing a fucking backbend.

It’s possible you may have jumped the gun (another mafia-coined term, perhaps?) and did what we’ve all done at one point or another: Prematurely fired hired. 

And now you’re stuck trying to gracefully tell someone you don’t want to work together after all. (And to please, for the love of knuckle sandwiches, stop calling you, “hun.”)

The bad news: If you signed a contract, you may have to suck it up. The good news? If you’re in a position to have a conversation, it doesn’t have to be as uncomfortable as you’re imagining.

Here are two scripts you can use—one formal version and one light-hearted version—any time you need to eloquently, but firmly, end a relationship that’s just beginning.

Formal script


I have to tell you—I’m so grateful we connected. I wanted to work with you specifically because <your portfolio is extremely impressive / you came highly recommend by Jessica Rabbit / I loved your website / you seem to really know what you’re doing / etc.>, and you haven’t disappointed.

That said, out of respect for your time, I’ve got to go with my gut here: I’m sensing that we may both benefit from putting a permanent pause on our work together.

I want you to know you haven’t done anything wrong, and this is not a reflection on you, but rather, a reflection on my own decision to honor my intuition. (Which may simply be that I need some more time to figure out the direction I’d like to take for this project.)

I really can’t thank you enough for your effort, passion, and dedication—and I hope this email frees you up to direct those efforts toward something you really love. After all, life’s too short to do anything less.

Thank you, once more, for everything. Let me know if there’s anything we need to take care of on your end, and I’ll make sure it gets addressed promptly.

To doing our best work always,


Light-hearted script


You’re at an Italian restaurant, (bear with me), and you’re absolutely starving. After scanning the menu and feeling your jaw do that clenching thing from salivating, you enthusiastically flag down the waiter, (wearing the customary burgundy apron found in all Italian restaurants), and order chicken parmesan.

All you can think about is how perfect that chicken parmesan is going to be. After all, it’s the best chicken parmesan in the city. The best chicken parmesan in the state. Maybe even, the best chicken parmesan in the entire country.

But when that breaded chicken cutlet lovingly smothered in marinara arrives piping hot to your table, you realize you’ve made a mistake. Even though the chicken parmesan is perfect, it’s not what you need.

<Person>, you’re the chicken parmesan. So incredibly talented, (one of the best web designers I’ve ever had the pleasure and privilege of working with), professional and <insert quality you like about them.>

But as time goes on, I’ve realized I desperately need the shrimp alfredo, and therefore have to put a caring and thoughtful end to our business arrangement.

I really can’t thank you enough for the effort, passion, and perseverance you’ve invested to date. There’s literally no doubt in my mind that one day soon you’ll end up working for a competitor and doing work so amazing that I’ll be seething with jealousy and daydreaming of egging their house.

But in the meantime, thanks again for all your work. Your effort hasn’t gone unnoticed, and I hope this email:

a) Didn’t make you too hungry.

b) Somehow, in some small way, lets you sigh with relief, too.


Ultimately, no matter what you have to say,  grace is never passé, and finesse is always a good practice.

Worst case scenario?

Your website will look like a pre-schooler designed it, the word “juicy” will infiltrate your nightmares, you won’t have an app to write home about, and your business will completely flatline, but at the very least you can be confident that all you need to do?

Is breathe. 

(…And then make a beeline for the nearest crowbar.)