I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the most amazing clients (my current lot are beyond legendary) and from all accounts, most of the solopreneurs I talk to have. But we all had at least one horror client we regretted. I’ve spoken many times about my most challenging client because the lessons were so invaluable and need to be shared, but avoiding problematic clients is a pretty good idea for a lot of reasons. Namely your sanity. Here’s a list of 6 type of clients you really don’t want to work with. Believe me, you don’t want to even if you’re desperate for clients:
This client doesn’t have much respect for the energy exchange. They have painful relationships with money (whether they realise it or not) and are constantly looking for ways to get ahead without investing in money, time or energy. I’ve seen it many times with coaches who take up all the free offers they can, then complain that no one is buying their services!
When they do decide to invest with you, they will constantly seek the cheaper options. They’ll choose one of your cheaper services but expect the same level of your big ticket program. They don’t pay on time and leave you chasing them for overpaid dues. They look for quick fixes and expect you to find (or even do) the solution for them.
How to spot them: They most likely ask to work with you for free or try to get a discount.
This is the one that sends you essay-long emails and comments on absolutely everything you publish. They’re like your biggest fan. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing– but when it comes to working with them, they are a real challenge.
Firstly, their perceptions of boundaries are almost non-existent. They want to unload everything on to you at no thought at whether it’s appropriate to or not. They put you in between a rock and a hard place.
Secondly, they move on quickly. They aren’t the most loyal of clients, they’re just the most vocal. Once you start putting boundaries in place, they tend to take it personally and feel neglected. Cue tears and a stormy exit.
How to spot them: Pretty easy really, they’re the obvious stalker who’s contacting you non-stop. Be warned though, it may seem like an easy sale which might make it hard to say no to working with them.
The Negative Nancy
This is the person who has a pretty negative outlook on life. They see obstacles as failures, challenges as the end of the world and almost always overlook the opportunities right in front of them. They aren’t the greatest problem-solvers and spend way too much time worrying about things out of their control.
As clients, they look for the negative in everything. You will spend lots of your time coaching them (even if you’re a freelancer or consultant) to see the positives and opportunities. They will be notoriously hard to please and you will constantly feel like you need to do extra things for them to make them happy.
How to spot them: You’ll see it in their language. They tend to use a lot of negative connotations and focus on the things that aren’t working without any mention of the possibilities.
The Closed Book
They have rigid beliefs that they refuse to budge from. If you’re a coach, you might be willing to work through this with your client but for the most part, a Closed Book client is a nightmare to work with.
Most of the time they see themselves as ‘open to change’. The spiritual-lead person who refuses to implement something you’ve taught them because ‘it doesn’t feel right’ is the toughest client. They refuse to give it a go and tend to just repeat what they did last time and expect a different result. They chalk it down to their intuition but from my experience, it’s an incredibly murky line between fear and intuition.
How to spot them: This is pretty tough to spot and is best found out by having a chat with them before working together (which I hope you would do with all your 1:1 clients). Ask questions about their beliefs and what they would be willing to do differently to get different results.
This is the client that refuses to acknowledge any responsibility. In my line of work, it would be the client that lays blame on their partners or circumstances around them that is impacting on their business.
They are so challenging because they refuse to meet halfway. They expect you to lead the way and be responsible for 100% of the outcome. It doesn’t work because they still have opinions and expectations, but simply expect you to know them even though they haven’t articulated them to you. They are indecisive and change their minds frequently.
How to spot them: They have vague requests or parameters to working with you. Or they change their minds frequently over the course of a conversation with them.
This client is like a bomb waiting to go off. They’re the ones that don’t live up to the adage ‘think before you act’. Let’s say you complete a portion of your project with them and they don’t like a particular element. Instead of discussing it with you, they’ll blast you for your incompetence. Or they’ll misinterpret emails and instead of clarifying any confusion, they rip you to shreds.
How to spot them: A tough one because they tend to showcase their true colours after they’ve signed on!
In all cases, your gut generally knows if you’re about to work with a challenging client (just make sure it’s not fear masquerading as intuition!). We will all experience a few regardless and believe me, you learn very quickly who to say no to.
Have you had any horror clients? Any type of horror client you would add to the list? Add them in the comments below.