In the early days, I said ‘yes’ to the most unsuitable clients and it nearly killed my business before it even got started.
I see so much content online… for want of a better term… bitching about “nightmare clients”. And the spirit of these posts makes me frown. I feel it’s the LEAST empathetic approach to business and is dangerously unhelpful.
Unsuitable clients are real though.
They’re the clients who don’t match your work style or even the solution you offer. With unsuitable clients communication is a constant struggle and no matter how much of a pretzel you make of yourself, they never seem happy. But it’s not the client’s fault. They’re not “nightmares”‘. They’re people.
So why does this happen? Why do some clients feel like nightmares?
- It happens when you’re so desperate to get your business off the ground that you grab at any offer of cash the wafts past… even if it’s not a good fit.
- It happens when you sacrifice your boundaries and neglect to set real expectations from the start. So no matter how hard you try, the client is never happy. They can’t be. You’re not on the same page.
- It happens when you’re not charging enough for your work and you resent the time you have to dedicate to it… rather than doing your best work.
- It happens when you don’t act as a strategic partner to your clients and you don’t show up for them in every part of your marketing, sales process and service delivery.
- It happens when you’re trying to be someone you’re not. When you’re trying to please all the people all of the time… jumping between tactics and hacks that don’t fully feel right. This is exhausting and wholly unsustainable, especially if you work solo.
For me, I began to feel a physical pain when a meeting with an unsuitable client was scheduled. My gut was trying to tell me, but I shushed it and said, “I need this”.
It was only when I started getting dream clients that I realised what I had been doing wrong. I have to admit though, the unsuitable clients taught me more than any course, coach or mentor. And honestly, I did need the money at the time. But it was dang stressful.
The dream clients taught me about flow and feeling JOY when their calls popped up in my calendar.
My clients from the past few years have been totally dreamy. (And I don’t just say that because they might be reading…👋 Hi.) I respect them greatly. I make space for their ideas and our professional relationship is such that I can speak up when I see the scope of work creeping beyond the original agreement.
Working with unsuitable clients can be a good learning experience when you’re getting started, or finding the edges of your service offerings. Lessons, not nightmares. But there comes a time when your lessons are learned and you must focus on clients with who you can do your best work.
Over time, I got more and more specific about the niche and ideal client I wanted to work with.
- I stopped posting tips and tricks and DIY solutions so the bargain hunters stopped calling.
- I stopped trying to reach the broadest audience possible and focussed on showing up for the people I really wanted to reach.
- I was more myself in my marketing, sales process and service delivery (cheesy jokes ‘n all).
- I found a flow that suits my temperament and connects with the people I love to work with.
- I started showing up as an act of service and scaling up my income and work satisfaction.
It’s still challenging sometimes, but we love a challenge don’t we?
Ready to start attracting more suitable clients?
I can help creative and 1:1 service providers show up online and connect with ideal clients. Together we can create a path for people to find and hire you so that you make more money, doing the work you love. Showing up looks different to every individual and it has to be done in a way that suits your temperament and energy. It’s about taking aligned action. Using your natural strengths and core values to make more money, doing the work you love.
Sound good? Click here to book a quick call to see what this might look like for you.