I hate to admit it, but in my 14 years of business I have had a few nightmare clients. As with anything, having those clients would have only been a “failure” for me IF I hadn’t learned from them. I learned a ton through having to experience the challenge and consequences to bringing on clients that were a bad fit. I am hoping all of you can learn a little from this article so you don’t have to endure the pain I did to learn the important lessons that serve me so well now. Here are 6 ways that the wrong clients impact our business:
- You work way too hard – when you work with someone who isn’t right, you begin to do everything in your power to make a difference and get results. You start working really hard to make that difference. It takes far, far more effort on your part than working with a client who is a good fit, with fewer results.
- You start to doubt your gift – when you work this hard and get mediocre results, you start to blame yourself and take responsibility. You start to question whether you are really any good at what you do. Your confidence begins to plummet remarkably quickly.
- You start to lose your enthusiasm – when you see that client on your calendar, you start to cringe. It starts to affect how you feel about your work. You may start to dread Monday mornings (particularly if you have more than one client that isn’t a really good fit for you). Little by little, you start to wonder if you should just throw in the towel. This is when you start fantasizing about getting a job again (even though you really know you don’t want a job).
- You start to “leak” energy – Imagine that you are a metaphorical gas tank. Nightmare clients poke big holes in your gas tank. You can go from a full tank to an empty tank in the course of 45 minutes (sometimes even less). Even clients that are decent clients but not great fits poke little holes in our tank. These holes are draining the gas out of your tank. Great clients don’t drain gas from our tank. Most of them actually increase the gas in your tank (those are the clients we all want!). On Thursday, I had 5 phone calls with clients, which is more than I usually have. I actually had MORE energy when I was done with my calls then I did that morning…and I am pretty much a morning person. That wouldn’t have been possible if any of those clients were tank drainers.
- You have less energy for your best clients – if these clients are draining your metaphorical gas tank, you will be running on fumes for your best client. You won’t be able to give them your absolute best. You have to start to get creative with your calendar to insure your energy gets restored. I have to take fewer breaks, sleep fewer hours, and do less yoga/meditation than I had to 6 years ago before I started getting more discerning about what clients I took on. I also rarely drink caffeine anymore, and I used to rely on it heavily. As a result, I have a whole lot more time in my day than I had before, to do the things I love to do outside of work.
- You will start to lose some ideal clients – when you are running on fumes, it affects your confidence, your enthusiasm and your joy. Your clients will notice this and it will get harder for you to do your job well. Unfortunately, this will affect all your clients, not just the ones who drain you. You will put your relationships at risk and you will likely lose some. You will also be less compelling in your enrollment conversations and attract fewer ideal clients to you.
I always say “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. If you have the integrity to only take on clients you know you can make a significant difference with, it will change your life and your business. If you don’t have a full practice and really, really want new clients, it is sometimes hard to hold this line. After all, you are likely to make some difference for clients who aren’t a good fit, but not a significant difference. I would rather see you get a part-time job if you need the money than to take on a client that isn’t a good fit. When you are discerning and only work with clients that are a really good fit, you will get better results. This will boost your credibility in your community, increase your referrals and boost your confidence.. You will have time and energy to do business development activities. Your business will grow faster. It may feel like an oxymoron that saying “no” to clients will build your business faster. After working with hundreds of entrepreneurs 1:1, I can tell you that the clients who were more discerning, got better results. And I absolutely have seen this with my business. Moreover, I just love my work and life so much more than I did before. That is the invisible currency to being discerning that absolutely makes a huge difference in your quality of life.
If you realize that you need to be more discerning and just don’t know how, it may be good for you to sign up for a business breakthrough session with me to see if we would be a good fit to work together to build the business you truly want.
As always, I appreciate your thoughts, questions, and feedback!