This year, I’ve been focused on removing anything in my life that is a PIA, that rubs the wrong way, that no longer serves my interests. My self-care demands it.
After caring for a sick parent, I have zero time and energy for any kind of BS. It’s always a good time for you to be thinking about this, too.
Identifying and weeding out bad clients is an exercise in self-care and making your business sustainable and profitable.
For a while now, I’ve been observing the results of someone working with what I would deem a bad client.
The situation has gone from bad, to very bad, to really, REALLY bad.
For the life of me, I have never understood what they see in this client, what could possibly be worth all the hair-pulling problems and extra work, annoyance, and difficulty this bad client causes.
Now the chickens are coming home to roost, and it emphasizes the cold hard truths I and others have always expounded on when it comes to taking on un-ideal clients: DON’T DO IT!
- You may see the prospect of big financial returns, but I guarantee you, it is nearly never worth all the time, trouble, and energy it costs you in the end (and that’s IF you ever do see the kind of money you thought they represented).
- Bad clients are FAR more work than they are ever worth.
- Bad clients like to make grandiose claims and big promises that almost never come to fruition.
- IF they do hit it big (that’s a big IF), bad clients easily/conveniently forget the promises they made to you when they needed your help.
- Bad clients are hopelessly, endlessly disorganized. They resist and make difficult any and all attempts by you to create some semblance of order, making it next to impossible to work with them.
- Bad clients live in a constant state of chaos, and their chaos becomes your chaos.
- Bad clients like to keep everything in their head. They don’t listen when you remind them that they are no longer working alone and thus, there simply MUST be systems put in place for working together.
- Bad clients are always late. They do everything at the very last minute, leaving you little to no time to do a proper/thorough job. They expect you to then drop everything and deal with the consequences.
- Bad clients create 10 more problems for every one that you solve. Instead of getting more efficient and organized, they only get worse. They make everything more difficult than it has to be.
- Bad clients are arrogant. They always think they are smarter and know more than everyone else. They brush off your advice, recommendations, and suggestions (even when they have solicited you for them!). When they do take a suggestion you have offered, they act like they thought of it themselves.
- Bad clients are constantly cutting corners and playing stupid games, thinking they can outwit the law, the system, the “man.” This nearly always ends in disaster and only causes more work and headaches for everyone involved. (TIP: It is FAR more work and difficulty trying to cut corners and game things than it is to simply do things correctly, honestly, in the first place. As Judge Marilyn Milan says, “The cheap comes out expensive.)
- Bad clients are sloppy and pig-headed. They will cut their nose to spite their face, spend $10 to save a penny. They’re always trying to take shortcuts and think properly dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s is for sissies. This creates a house of cards that ends up biting them in the ass one way or another. There is a reason there are commonly accepted standards of business practice. Anyone who shrugs them off as unimportant is a huckster, not a proper businessperson.
- Bad clients are petty and selfish. They withhold praise, rarely express appreciation, and are always devaluing others and looking to take advantage whenever possible. They want ALL the credit and will steal it even when it’s not theirs to be taken or given. The only person they value and think about is themselves.
- Bad clients are greedy. They think the ends always justify the means. Ethics and integrity are afterthoughts (if they are considered at all). It’s one harebrained, questionable scheme after another with them.
- The problems that bad clients cause spill over into your other client relationships.
- Bad clients cause your work quality to suffer all the way around. They are so needy and demanding and their work, in turn, so arduous and time-consuming, it unfairly deprives your other, more ideal (and easier to work with) clients from your equal time, attention and best efforts.
- Bad clients want everything for nothing. They will gladly pay you tomorrow for a hamburger today (and tomorrow never comes soon). You can’t pay your bills with IOUs.
- Bad clients think everything they do is worth millions and everything you do is worth pennies. That is to say, they devalue, demoralize, and degrade (in turn, eroding your confidence) and don’t appreciate all that you do for them.
- Bad clients constantly pay late, if at all. They’re always making excuses and trying to string you along. (Of course, you have some culpability here. It’s up to you to put your foot down the first time this happens and to fire the ass of anyone who continues to disrespect you in this way.)
- Bad clients ruin all the good work you have done for them on their behalf. For every gain you make, they do something that causes twenty steps back.
- Their poor integrity can besmirch YOUR reputation and integrity. God forbid you should rely on them for referrals; you’ll just get more of the same type of bad client.
- Bad clients never take responsibility for their poor habits and practices and are the first to blame YOU for the problems they caused/brought on themselves.
- Bad clients are also the first to report you to the BBB or the bar or whatever governing/overseeing agencies you are accountable to. They are incapable of taking responsibility for the problems and conditions they themselves create.
- Bad clients cannot be saved from themselves and will bring you down with them. Bad clients who don’t run their businesses properly or ethically can be and often are sued. And guess who can get dragged into that mess whether they like it or not? Yeah, you and everyone else who has worked with them.
- Bad clients are the quickest path to poor health, stress, overwhelm, and burnout.
Never take on any client just for the money. I can’t emphasize this enough!
There must be a fit. You have to genuinely like them and what they do (and vice versa).
They must be honest and ethical and do things in a way you can respect.
They must treat you with dignity, honor, and respect.
And they have to be willing to let you do what you do without making it more difficult. If not, you have nothing to discuss and there can be no relationship.
Bottom line: Be a client snob. Don’t accept anyone and everyone who comes along. Be choosy and selective about who you work with and have a process in place for vetting clients. You’ll be happier and richer for it.