By Ryan McGreal
Published September 08, 2010
Anyone who has freelanced for any amount of time quickly discovers that there are two kinds of business customers: professional clients who value high-quality work and are willing to pay for it, and bottom-feeders who suck up all your time while paying as little as possible.
Desperate entrepreneurs, by which I mean people struggling to break into a market and build a portfolio while generating enough income to survive, may be tempted to compete on price and undercut the competition. Unfortunately, discounted service pricing tends to attract a disproportionate share of the bottom-feeders.
In a kind of small-business version of Gresham's Law, those bottom-feeders not only crowd out more reputable businesses by making constant demands (and expecting you to swallow the costs), but also leave you with a portfolio filled with dreck that will only appeal to other bottom-feeders.
On reading this article in today's Spectator I was again reminded that Hamilton as a city still largely accepts desperation and embraces the death-spiral pursuit of bottom-feeders for its economic survival.
Whether we're clapping ourselves on the back for poaching a bread-making factory, humiliating ourselves to woo a pork processing plant, pinning our economic fortunes on warehousing, or sacrificing a long-term investment in advanced manufacturing to appease a $15 million-a-year sports retail business - Hamilton doesn't exactly present the face of a focused, visionary city competing on quality.
An inevitable vocalization of our endless economic kvetching is the oft-repeated but under-analyzed trope that we need to do more to "lure" businesses here - as if they'd never come unless we tricked them. Instead of playing the same old zero-sum game, why not concentrate our energies on growing new businesses by providing a rich, fertile climate?
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