Jumping in here today to talk about something that, we believe, is pretttty important if you run your own business (or would like to) and that is… Nightmare clients.
Nightmare clients – how to spot them (and then actually do something about them.)
Sometimes, your financial situation dictates whether or not you take on a job or client. That’s just the reality of building your own business. We get it, we’ve been there – multiple times. Our guess is that everyone has.
In fact, saying yes to anything and everything is kinda an entrepreneurship rite of passage and it will serve you well, at least in the beginning. It’s the perfect strategy for gaining valuable experience as well as developing an understanding of how you want to operate as a business owner and most importantly, who you want to operate with.
(& who you really don’t!)
However, no matter where you are in your business journey, if you do have some wiggle room, financially speaking… Catching the early warning signs of a nightmare client and listening to your gut instinct, before signing on the dotted line, really is an act of self-love above all others.
Especially right now when, after two years of pandemic, with energy running low, there’s more than enough to deal with, thank you not at all 2020 / 2021.
Warning signs to be on the lookout for when it comes to nightmare clients;
- Your initial discovery call feels less like an enjoyable deep-dive into project goals and more like a Guantanamo bay style interrogation. This suggests that the client doesn’t trust in your ability to deliver and whilst it makes sense to be wary of where you spend your money, ‘assuming positive intent’ is the basis of any good working relationship.
- They’re difficult about any and all of the clauses in your contract that protect you from shitty client behaviour. (This one is a biggie and one that we’ve experienced quite recently. They’re essentially warning you ahead of time that they’re not planning on playing fairly. Run, don’t walk away from this type of client, seriously.)
- They’re hyper-focused on money and want everything done for less. Trust your judgement with this one, there’s nothing wrong with a client being financially savvy and figuring out how to achieve x, y or z within their budget but in those situations, the client generally understands there’s a compromise to be made and deliverables are reduced to suit. If money is the be-all and end-all then it’s likely that they’re not fully invested in either you, themselves OR their idea and that’s just never going to make for a fun or successful collaboration.
- They keep cancelling, rearranging or just plain not showing up to any of your calls or meetings. Same goes for handing in any pre-work and just generally adhering to pre-agreed timelines. Of course, life happens and things will come up but depending on how your diary is set up, a project that drags on for longer than planned can have serious repercussions for other projects, causing hella stress and sleepless nights when you end up juggling 10 projects at once. Yikes.
Turning down a project is a ballsy move, for sure but remember WHY you got into business in the first place. It was likely, at least in part, to be able to make decisions that felt most aligned for you.
Also, we’re firm believers that the Universe (or whichever higher power that you believe in) is always listening. You turn down a nightmare client or a project that’s a bad fit and you’re simply making room for one that fits perfectly!
You also guarantee that you have the time and mental energy available for all of the clients you do have, leading to a better experience for them, leading to referrals and glowing reviews.
Really, ditching those nightmare clients might feel like a loss but it’s actually a win-win-win.
For your bank account AND your sanity!
Have you ever had to deal with a nightmare client? If so, what do you wish you’d done differently?