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When to fire a client

If you’ve been in business for a while, it’s likely that you’ve run across a client or two, (or possibly even more), that has caused you some pain. Engaging with them sucks your energy, your time, your wallet and can undermine your feeling of self worth. You may even find that you’re turning yourself inside out in order to accommodate them, but nothing you do ever satisfies them.

If this sounds familiar, here are some ways to know when it’s time to sever the chord, preserve your sanity and get rid of a problem client:

1. Your fees are fair, but they want to negotiate anyway.
2. They hire you for your expertise, but tell you how to do your job.
3. You cringe whenever they contact you.
4. You find yourself worrying endlessly about how the engagement is going.
5. They don’t trust your judgment.
6. They don’t share your values or ask you to do something unethical.
7. They’re abusive in some way.
8. They don’t respect your time.
9. They make unreasonable demands.
10. They hire you, but are unresponsive when you need their approval or input.
11. They don’t pay on time.
12. They want to increase the scope of the work, but aren’t willing to pay for it.

Is there a client you need to fire?

Susan Martin, Business Sanity

Terri Zwierzynski March 25, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Great list! This is one of the hardest things for solo entrepreneurs to do – fire a client – and yet there is such relief and sometimes celebration once you’ve done it!

13. They hire you, then complain when you ask them for the information you need from them. Sort of a corollary to 10.
14. They complain that your process, which works just fine for your other clients, is not clear/is too difficult. It could be that you need to adjust your process (always have to make space for constructive feedback!) but if it is accompanied by any of the other situations on the list, it could be an indication of a poor fit.

Susan Martin March 25, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Great additions Terri, thanks! re #14: This can sometimes lead to other problems such as when a business owner thinks they have to respond to any and all feedback, but that will be a post for another day…

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