If you’re anything like me, you started your business in part because you took a gander at the options for making money in this world and discovered that…
A] commuting is a hideous nightmare.
B] 9-5 is for robots.
C]… having a boss makes you want to cough up a furball.
…and D] you’re not hire-able in the least.
So you escaped the clutches of the fluorescent-lit temperature-controlled cubicle farm, and you thank your angels daily that you get paid to do what you love. Plus, you don’t have to dress up. (You’re wearing pajamas right now, aren’t you?)
The problem with all of these blessings?
You feel so lucky… that you ignore one of the biggest challenges in your business:
That one client who drains the life out of you.
If you’re like many people, you tell yourself that soul-sucking clients just “come with the territory.” And who are you to be picky when it comes to taking someone’s money? (After all, your sister works in corporate and still wears pantyhose everyday!)
Well, guess what?
If you’re running a full-time, 40 (okay, let’s be honest… 50) hour a week business, that’s a lot of life-minutes — 156,800 each year to be exact — to spend with people who fight you, question you or don’t treat you well.
How I see it, you have two choices:
1 – Month after month, year after year, continue to tolerate clients who drain your energy because, hey, they’re paying you.
2 – Release said clients and get your soul back. (And then? Focus on captivating your ideal clients.)
Remember, you get what you tolerate!
With that said, ending a client relationship requires clarity. Which is why I work so hard with my own clients to help them build abundance mindsets, sell with service, and create clear boundaries within their business systems.
For now, let’s just go there. Let’s identify the toxic clients who may be creating all kinds of revenue – but are draining your joy, clarity and life.
Here are six kinds of clients that just aren’t worth the money…
1 – The one who needs convincing.
Jason’s a personal trainer. He helps women reshape their bodies (and lose fat) through Olympic weight-lifting.
Rina watched women at the gym get in shape working with Jason, so she signed up.
But from day one, Rina didn’t want to lift weights. She was scared of “bulking out.” No matter how much education or training (or even his own success stories) Jason gave Rina, she fought him at every session.
She doubted. She argued. She wanted her elliptical back, even though it had never helped her burn fat.
After six argumentative sessions, Jason refunded the remainder of her money and released her back to her cardio machines.
Lesson: The client who needs convincing won’t let go of how they’ve always done it. It doesn’t matter how much data you deliver or how many results you’ve gotten, this client clings to old beliefs like a binky… more secure in his way of doing things than in the possibility of a good old-fashioned paradigm shift.
No need to get dramatic or roll your eyes. Just not worth your time. That’s all.
2 – The one who collapses.
I’ve discovered something over my years of working with people:
There’s a huge difference between coaching… and collapsing.
I’ve had clients over the years who showed up for their calls like damsels in distress… always collapsing into a pool of drama, refusing to get clear on any specifics, knowing only that “everything” needed to be fixed.
Lesson: Yes, you do want to offer assistance to a client who needs help with clarity.
But the one who constantly collapses is committed to a pattern of helplessness. She begins to reveal that she has no interest in turning this pattern around. She is a damsel – and she wants you to be her knight in shining armor. Fix me, I am helpless.
Yes, there are people who can help this person. But you may discover that you are not the best option.
3 – The one who doesn’t want what you offer.
Anna runs a photography business offering full-service, candid wedding packages. She’s built her reputation on telling in-depth photo love stories:
Mom crying while she buttons up the bride’s dress; the checkered tennis shoes the unconventional groom wears; the nervous excitement of the four-year-old flower girl.
Chelsea and Dan love Anna’s style. But they don’t really want her package.
Instead, they want “an hour or two” of her time. Formal photos, just before their wedding.
Anna likes Chelsea and Dan. And she knows she could fill this request. (After all, it’s just a few hours, right?) But she discovered long ago that this style of photography drains her.
Plus, September is peak wedding season. If she takes the gig, Anna will lose a day of work to the few hours. Not only will this job not feel rewarding, she’ll lose out on income she counts on.
The problem with these clients isn’t always clear at first. They like you, they love you. They flatter you. Except, blazing red flag: They want something you don’t offer.
Lesson: If you contort yourself into all kinds of new (and non-ideal) offers and services for any client who comes along, you’re in danger of twisting yourself into many knots of resentment and loathing. It will steal your life-force over time.
What do you want to offer? What don’t you? Now, be clear with all clients about exactly what you do, and what you don’t do.
4 – The one who argues your pricing.
Have you ever thought:
Wow, I’m so lucky to even been able to do this work I love, is it even right to attach a price tag?
Well, just like so many other solopreneurs, my client Jess has had to stare that suspicion in the face.
She was ready to Uplevel her music business. Her goal: To charge premium pricing for her elite services of driving through the busy city providing one-on-one guitar lessons. This was the first piece of the vision for her new music school.
But she was charging laughable amounts for lessons because:
- a) she loved teaching
- b) she was afraid of losing clients (and of people not liking her)
Before she could step into her vision, she needed to trust both in her value, and in her abundance mindset. She raised her prices. Substantially.
Yes, some clients fought her. Some called her up in the evening to bargain with her. After all, they could pay other guitar teachers much less and still get guitar lessons for their kid.
Jess was tempted. But in the end, she didn’t cave in, discount, or bargain. She offered those clients the option to go sign up with those other teachers. (All but two of her clients stayed with her.)
Lesson: Yes, there will always be people who think you charge too much, who try to get you to bargain with them.
You’re awesome at what you do. So can you blame people for wanting to work with you? Well, no. But should you let them talk your fees down?
Not unless you don’t really want the two weeks you have planned with your family in Argentina this year!
Discuss your pricing up front. Make sure your marketing communicates your value.
5 – The one who forgets you have a life.
This client can’t stop. Won’t stop. Not until she’s exhausted all possible methods to get to you, even when you’ve turned off your phone, re-explained your hours and told her you don’t work weekends.
Every thought, idea and question she has is communicated, like a social media stream, to you via email, phone, text and chat. 24/7.
Lesson: If you have clearly stated your boundaries… if you have given warnings… if you have shared your hours of operation and response times… then your only option is to hit the “eject” button.
Remember: You teach people how to treat you. It’s not their responsibility. It’s yours.
6 – The one who doesn’t do the work.
Cindy writes web content for businesses. She understands what’s involved in developing an irresistible brand: Good solid stories. The process of getting these stories requires work from the client.
Daniel hired Cindy to write web content for his new chiropractic business. Every time Cindy gave Daniel the homework that would help her make his business story come to life, Daniel wouldn’t do the work. He was busy. He “couldn’t think of anything.” He just wanted the website up already.
At first, Cindy tried to help him understand that “just the facts” will make his business just like all the other local chiropractors. It wouldn’t stand out. But Daniel still never did the work.
Ultimately, Cindy realized it was a waste of time trying to read this guy’s mind while waiting for him to get on board and do the work. Together, they weren’t getting anywhere. She let him go without a refund.
Lesson: The client who doesn’t do the work expects a swig of potion from your magic genie bottle. They nod along, excited, until you burst their starry-eyed bubble with the truth: no participation from you, no progress from me.
What do you need from your clients in order to work with them? Write this into your onboarding process.
Got any nightmare client stories? (No naming names, of course!) I want to hear all the sordid details. How did you deal?