You know how it is in the beginning…you’re unsure of yourself and your services, you’re underpriced, you hope that someone, anyone will pay you. (Bueller?!) But after a while you gain a bit of confidence, start to raise your prices and tailor your services…yet the need to bring in cash and pay the bills can easily override your intuition sending you red flags about a potential client.
Enter the mismatched client.
Nobody likes bad clients and at the same time, no one experiences entrepreneurship without them. To be clear, these aren’t bad people…they’re just not YOUR people.
I’ve specialized in helping people stop accepting All The Clients and start being discerning about who they agree to work with for over five years now. I even worked with a now-internet-famous web designer who, at the time we worked together, was still accepting payment in the form of a written cheque from a client in another country.
I know you don’t want to turn down business, but being discerning is important and I’ll tell you why.
If the client is a bad match, it can be a huge energy suck.
Your energy is everything. EVER-Y-THING. You don’t have office deadlines to meet within a 9-5 workweek which means you’ve gotta manage your energy well otherwise it sucks joy from your other projects and *gasp* from your free time. You know how it is…waking up on yet another morning thinking, “Oh gawd…another email from Uma. When will this be over!?”
If the client is a bad match, your heart won’t be in the work.
It is REALLY hard to do your best work for someone who you’re not jiving with. Like, almost impossible. And your work is your reputation. You need to be knocking it outta the park every time.
If the client is a bad match, they won’t refer future business and might possibly even warn people against working with you.
This is the worst case scenario. In fairness, you can’t please everyone and even happy clients don’t always refer. But the relationship economy can be a bit ruthless when you’re building your reputation and you don’t want to accidentally churn out someone who shit talks you in a FB group.
BONUS THOUGHT: why you should probably turn down people who can’t afford you
If it’s someone who can’t pay you and you’re thinking of making an exception, 9 times out of 10 they simply won’t be as invested as someone who can afford you and happily pay you what you’re worth. You aren’t doing them a favour by giving them a discount. Requiring less skin in the game means there’s an easier out for your client and you may get left hanging. Not cool. Everyone loses.
Have you ever turned down business or wish in retrospect that you had?