30 reasons to fire – or not hire – a client

Does the idea of working with a particular person keep you awake at night, tossing and turning as you sweat it out, hating on yourself for ever letting them into your world but unsure about what to do about it? You know you can help them but every interaction is killing your soul.

Well, it’s time to put your own needs first and say enough is enough: “I don’t love working with this client so I won’t do it anymore!”

Here’s the news flash – it’s YOUR business and you deserve to only work with people who serve you as much as you serve them. And guess what? When you release them out into the world to find another solution, you’ll actually be doing them a favour too – they’ll find someone more suited to their needs/personality/temperament/demands!

It’s a natural normal inclination at the start of your business journey to want to work with anyone who is keen to work with you…  because money is money right? And a client is a client, right? WRONG! I used to tell this story a lot to my coaching clients, particularly those who were new in business…

The most empowering day for me as a business owner came at about week 6 in my third year of business. I’d been blessed until that time to be able to work with really great clients, most of whom were from my existing network of professionals from my 15 years in corporate digital marketing, or they were referrals from those sources – all awesome, likeminded people.  I knew that I couldn’t rely on those sources forever however, so, with a bunch of great testimonials and experience under my belt I started marketing myself more broadly. And let’s just say it called in all kinds of loopies!!! (I obviously had not nailed my ideal client profile and was NOT talking their lingo!)

One such loopy was a man, mid-40s, well groomed, fancy new car, and who had recently parted ways with his wife.  He openly admitted he was lonely, in need of female company, and that he’d been working out for the first time in years to make himself feel better.  He was charming, (verging on smarmy), polite, chivalrous but offered one too many times to have our meetings over lunch at a winery.  He said often how he missed having a partner but that he was throwing himself into his business to keep busy and now needed a hand ‘expressing’ himself in a more sensitive manner so as to attract the right customers.  Hello, alarm bells!  Anyways, he was prepared to pay top dollar for my top coaching package at the time, (which to be honest, I had just put together to appease my coach but didn’t really believe I was worth it or that anyone would buy it. But that’s another story!) In fact, he wanted to pay me up front and then pay more for extra hours above the initial package! And whilst it was exciting and my wallet trembled with anticipation, there was a part of me that kept saying ‘don’t do it’. Of course, I tried to ignore that part for a few hours, then days, thinking how great it would be to nail this contract, help this dude and have a really great case study (and probably a great new pair of shoes too!).  But when the niggly feelings didn’t go away, I couldn’t ignore them any longer. No amount of money was going to make me feel comfortable having this dude in my studio every week for 3 months. No amount of cash was worth securing if I was made to feel nervous in my own environment.

And so I said “Sorry, I can’t help you I’m afraid. I don’t think I’m the right coach for you.”

It wasn’t easy, and I struggled with the wording, worrying about the aftermath.  Would he tell everyone I lead him on? Would he be a prick about me online? Would he say I was a fraud for advertising services then not delivering? Would he accuse me of having tickets on myself and falsely claiming he was hitting on me? Was I making it all up and as a result would miss out on helping a potentially great business owner? SO MANY FEARS.

But I had to make the call.

I’ll never know for sure if it was a necessary decision but it was the right one for me at the time.  And it gave me so much power to say NO to other clients thereafter.  Which I have done a handful of times over my 10 years in business.

Now, you don’t have to be facing a potential sexual predator or psycho to need to say NO to a potential new client, or to get rid of an existing one.  In fact, you can say no to whomever you like for whatever reason as long as you’re polite about it and can justify it (to yourself…ain’t nobody else’s business!)

So here’s 30 reasons (most of which have either happened to me or someone I know!) for why you might fire a client or say NO to a new one:

    1. The client asks you to do anything unethical or illegal.
    2. Your client doesn’t pay their invoice at all or pays in dribs and drabs to suit them, not you.
    3. The client disrespects your time by constantly being late to appointments
    4. The person refuses to pay a deposit.
    5. Your client repeatedly requests a fast turnaround having given you work at the 11th hour.
    6. The client keeps changing their mind about what they want so you’re constantly changing gears.
    7. The person refuses to sign a contract.
    8. Your client calls/messages at all hours and expects you to immediately respond.
    9. The person wants new terms in their contract that don’t work for you.
    10. Your client tells inappropriate jokes or makes sexual innuendo — and then you’re accused of ‘not having a sense of humour.’
    11. Your client repeatedly asks you to re-do work he’s already approved and paid for…but refuses to pay for the revisions.
    12. Your client takes the credit for work you’ve done.
    13. Your client refuses to pay for work that is out of the original scope of the project.
    14. Your client asks you to copy what one of their competitors is doing but just ‘change it a little bit.’
    15. The person is a bigot and openly shares their feelings.
    16. The client is passive-aggressive.
    17. The client talks down to you and belittles you.
    18. The client constantly misses deadlines for submitting information.
    19. The client is constantly dissatisfied with the work you’re doing without good reason.
    20. The person asks you out or flirts with you, knowing you’re married/engaged/partnered, and would never consider cheating!
    21. The client disagrees with everything you recommend.
    22. The client refuses to implement any changes and then blames you for lack of progress.
    23. The client expects you to be their therapist and spends most of your time together loading you up with their personal problems.
    24. The client yells at you.
    25. The client gaslights you.
    26. The work doesn’t feel fun anymore.
    27. You dread that person arriving at their appointment.
    28. You feel unsafe in the client’s company.
    29. You’ve outgrown the client and they can’t pay your new rates.
    30. Your client has outgrown new and needs something else that you can’t/don’t provide.

I wonder if any of these resonate with you right now? Or do you have your own to add to the list???

Remember, it’s your business, your welfare, your life. You have a right to fire – or not hire – anyone you like!

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