Too Bad, So Sad

Too Bad, So Sad

Seen around the Internet:

Hi All! I would appreciate your input and opinions on my current scenario.
I have a potential new client starting next week who is guaranteeing me 20 hours of work per week. Because he is guaranteeing 80 hours per month, I’ve reluctantly accepted a rate that is less than my typical hourly rate.
I operate on a monthly prepaid retainer that’s worked into my contract, as most of us do. The client is not willing to prepay and would rather pay “immediately via Paypal at the end of each week for hours worked”.
I’m having a hard time accepting this. How would you respond? Would it be fair to respond by asking for prepayment for each the week? (rather than at the end of the week)
I don’t want to lose the opportunity but I do need to hold strong on my policies. I should mention that this client was referred to me by someone I trust and who also works with him.

Fuck that guy. 😉


All snarkiness aside, you’ve answered your own question: “I do need to hold strong on my policies.”

So what’s the problem? Why are you trying to talk yourself into stepping over your own standards?

This is a bad client waiting to happen.

And by acquiescing when you’ve already made your policy clear, you are teaching this client that you will simply roll-over at the first hint of objection. Hell, you already let him put you on the sale rack in the bargain basement. Not a good precedent to set in the relationship whatsoever.

Stop letting clients tell you what to do in your own business.

You simply tell him pleasantly and matter-of-factly, without any angst, anger or apology, “This is how I work with clients… This is how things work in my business… This is who I’m looking to work with, who is a fit for my practice… This is who I do my best work for and who gets the most out of working with me… If that works for you, great. If not, I’m afraid we won’t be able to work together and I wish you well.”

(HINT: And who is it you work best with? People who don’t try to bargain down your fees and who pay upfront according to your billing policies without trying to haggle and dicker and argue with you over them.)


If you want a business that makes you happy and doesn’t cause you a bunch of problems and headaches, stop letting wrong-fitting clients talk you into things you don’t want to do.

Stop talking yourself into doing them and being a self-sabotager.

Even if you decide (or rather, talk yourself into being okay with) getting paid upfront each week instead of each month, and assuming this prospective client agrees to that, you’d be making an exception in your business that is only going to make more work for yourself by complicating your business and billing—for this one client with whom you’ve never worked before and who hasn’t earned any reason for you to be bending over backward to twist your policies and administration into pretzels for him.

There are PLENTY of clients in the world… ones who will happily and easily work with the standards and policies you’ve set for your business.

Focus on that fact and those clients.

Because if you keep yourself stuck in poverty/scarcity mindset, all you’ll ever have are un-ideal, pain-in-the-ass clients, and you will forever be held hostage by them in your business (and your life).

I want you to sit down right now and start a list of all the traits and characteristics that make up an ideal client for you. Every time you work with a great client, update this list. Do this throughout the life of your business.

HINT: Working easily with the standards and policies you’ve set in your business should be item #1. Being ready, able and willing to make the commitment to working together in whatever way you’ve decided works best for you (e.g., upfront monthly retainer) should be item #2.

Then, start a list of all the characteristics of an UN-ideal client for you. These are all the red flags that tell you when you are dealing with someone who is going to be a PIA. And write down WHY those traits and characteristics make for an un-ideal client. Every time you work with a less than ideal, unhappy-making, pain-in-the-ass client, update this list. Do this throughout the life of your business. This exercise makes you more conscious of all the red flag signals your intuition starts waving at you when you find yourself dealing with someone who is not going to be great to work with.

Then, next time you are tempted to step over your standards and be your own worst enemy, pull these lists out to remind yourself why it’s not a good idea and why it’s always better to hold out for what you want in your life and not settle for anything that is less than ideal.

Of course, the other way to really learn this lesson is to take on every client who comes your way without barrier, without discernment, without any thought or prequalification for whether or not they are ideal or un-ideal for you. Let each of them individually dictate how you run your business and what your standards and policies will be.

You’ll find out real quick why it’s not a good idea to step over your standards and ignore what your gut is telling you.

See also: Dear Danielle: I’ve Lost All Boundaries; Is this Relationship Salvageable?

(You also would get some serious benefit from my pricing and packaging guide, which also teaches you how to present support plans and talk about fees and navigate that whole conversation around getting paid.)

11 Responses

  1. Helen Albanese says:

    Stick to your guns/policies.

    I had an ideal client referred to me by someone I trust: the client is a nationally known motivational speaker. He spent many paid hours in training, gave me all his passwords, paid my first two invoices promptly, then called me while I was preparing invoice #3. Stop all work, no cash flow he said. Much later, I still have not gotten a penny of the 4 figures he owes. I’m thinking small claims court. We did have a contract and I have his email promises to pay.

  2. Yeah, referrals mean absolutely zilch. I get referred all the time and rarely are they ever ideal. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever taken on a client who was referred to me by someone else. The best, most ideal clients always come from your own networking pipelines and prequalifying processes.

    Hope you are able to collect, Helen. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. Patricia Harper Tunley says:

    I understand that you want to have this client as it may increase your bottom line. The question is, do you provide marginal services? (Is so, you will allow your clients to dictate your policies and procedures.) If not and your services are of expert level and you give 200% to your clients you can’t allow this referral client or any other client dictate your business policies and procedures that ensure your success. There are client willing to pay the rate as scheduled so don’t give up your authority in your company. This will set the stage for your existing and potential client as to your work ethics and weed out those that are not ready for your level of expertise. When you discount your services you also discount you abilities to some as my father once told me all money isn’t good money. So with that being said, all clients are not good client especially when they show you from the very beginning they are not will to respect your policies or you as a small business owner.
    Thank you for allowing me to chime in on this issue. Stand your ground if he is to be your client he will respect your policies and pay the regular rate as specified.

  4. Thanks for contributing, Patricia.

    I do want to add some food for thought:

    Cheap, unideal clients are EXPENSIVE to work with. In terms of the time and energy they suck up, the lowered morale and aggravation that inevitably manifests, and the fact that the inordinate amount of space they take up in your practice exceeds what you actually earn from them that could be more profitably filled with better paying, more ideal clients, they actually detract from the bottom line.

  5. Jane Walden says:

    You said it, sister!

  6. Tammy says:

    If they disrepect your pricing, that is a huge indicator that they want special terms. Also, when they start negotiating HOW they are going to pay you vs. how you said your pricing works, that is a fuck off in the making.

    No negotiating. EVER. You need to tell your friend: “OMG, the guy started negotiating over terms!” No can do.

  7. Lisa says:

    Hi Danielle,

    As usual, your advise is effective and right on. I expect you to be upfront and to “tell it like it is” and you do that. What I don’t expect EVER is profanity from you or someone in your position as the head of an organization you’ve created. I feel it is unprofessional and offensive. I don’t use the language and don’t believe it’s needed to get your point across. You could have said something like, “ditch that client,” and it would have been just as effective. Just saying.

  8. Lisa says:

    Oops, I meant your “advice” not advise. Thanks.

  9. This is pretty much how I feel about the precious, delicate flowers who can’t take a curse word once in awhile:

    I don’t give a shit about what anyone “expects.” I am my own person, and I have zero interest in being put on anyone’s pedestal. I’m not here to censor myself to please them.

    The people I’m interested in are those with strong mental constitutions, who appreciate thoughts, ideas and business thinking that isn’t dumbed down or PCd into pablum for the masses.

    And occasionally that includes a swear word or two. Because (gasp) I do appreciate a well-placed curse word here and there. If that makes you uncomfortable, you know where the door is.

  10. Lisa says:

    Wow, that’s really too bad. I wish you the best, Danielle.

  11. Tess says:

    I’m with you, Danielle! A little cussin’ now and then helps me cope!

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