Many roles in business today are advisory or consultant roles. Even if your professional title isn’t consultant, and even if you have a fixed position at a company, your job may still involve a fair bit of consulting, within the company or to your clients. Most consultants pride themselves, and rightly so, in being able to do excellent work for their clients, but few ever question whether they are at all the right match for the client until it is too late.
Matching yourself with a client doesn’t just mean that you and the client needs to “get along” well, rather, it means that you need to thoroughly believe in the client in order to do a good job. Motivation rarely comes at our command and truly faking it is hard, if not impossible. For this reason, it makes sense not to be taking projects that you don’t believe in.
Additionally, as a consultant you have a professional obligation to give good advice. That obligation should include the simple fact that you don’t believe in the product, if that is the case. Working with a client, in whom you do not believe is doing both you and the client a disservice.
Against this, you might argue that there will be plenty of other people ready to take up the project if you do not. This is, fortunately, most often true. However, even if their reasons for taking the project are for the same reason you stepped away, you have done your best for the client. You have given your good advice and as part of that, realized that you were not a good match.
Hopefully, the client finds someone who does believe in their product, but even if they do not, it is important to remember that you at least, did your job well. This is far better than taking the project and undoubtedly, ending up with a disaster waiting to happen. Let’s face it, most projects that you do not believe in rarely ends up being the most enjoyable, nor the most profitable. Basically, a mismatch between client and consultant never benefits anyone.
Money may be tight and this might seem economically unwise, but the reality is the contrary. Projects that go bad tend to eat up your time and thus resources more than you typically think. Locking yourself in a project which you do not believe in will not help your reputation, nor your bottom line. By working on them, you instead reduce the time in which you could be working on more profitable projects.
To sum up, for the good of your reputation as a professional, walking away from projects should be something that you do regularly as a consultant. Whether you do not believe in the product the client brings to the table, or simply do not get along with the client does not matter. The important thing is that you do your professional duty and realize that this one is not for you.