How many times have potential clients thrown red flags your way and you’ve completely ignored them? More often than not, those clients showing us red flags tend to be the hardest to work with. We take them on because we need the money or we’re happy to have a client and end up hating the experience. But here’s a hard truth – you don’t need every client. If you are experiencing any of these client red flags, consider whether or not you want to spend your time working with these clients.
Not Paying on Time
Do you have to fight to get your money? If a client consistently does not pay on time they don’t have much respect for your business. Clients who are ready and willing to work with you are going to pay that invoice right away, no questions asked. So if they are not paying you on time, negotiating your payment schedule, or hemming and hawing at your pricing, think long and hard about whether they are the client for you.
Expecting Constant Availability from You
I have very clear boundaries in my business and my clients know upfront what my availability is. I encourage all of my 1-on-1 clients to establish clear boundaries with their clients as well. If your client continuously pushes the boundaries you’ve set with them, reevaluate your work together. They shouldn’t be calling if you’ve asked for email communication only. If your office hours are 9-3, they should expect to hear from you tomorrow if they reach you at 3:15. Clients should respect when you’re available and understand that you’re not available 24/7.
Not Open to Change
Clients who are wary of anything new and try to push back on anything that you’re trying to do with them is a red flag. There’s nothing wrong with clients having expectations but they are coming to you because you are an expert. If they aren’t open to the ideas you present to them and have pre-established notions of what the outcome should be, they’ll probably be difficult to work with. They’ve already established in their minds what perfection is to them, and the likelihood of you being able to meet that is going to be hard.
Won’t Sign a Contract
This really should be the first red flag. You should not work with anyone who refuses to sign a contract. A contract is meant to protect you and the person signing the contract. Every person that I know that has worked with someone after they refuse to sign a contract has regretted it. You will too.
Again, clients should have expectations but the keyword here is “realistic”. This includes everything from the timeliness of how you communicate, when a project should be done, to what the outcome is going to be at the very end. If clients have unrealistic expectations it will be hard for you to manage the project to their satisfaction. Have open conversations with your clients at the beginning of your work together to make sure they understand how the process works and what the outcome will be.
Try to Micromanage You
No one likes to be micromanaged. The good thing about having our own businesses is that we get to decide how we work. If someone is attempting to micromanage you, they’re not trusting you with your own skills and how you can manage projects. The opposite of micromanaging is someone who trusts you and your ability to get work done. Micromanaging is also exhausting. If you’re starting to feel like a client is always over your shoulder, it may be time to let them go.
Think about whether or not you have some of these with current clients. It is stressful when we have clients that don’t respect our time and our skills. We go into business because we want to enjoy what we’re doing. But, that doesn’t mean that it should come at an expense of our sanity and our stress levels. Client red flags are real and it’s important to pay attention to them. Look at the red flags that clients are presenting and let them be your guide on whether or not it makes sense to have these clients in your business.