Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit

Don't Ignore These Client Red Flags

May 17, 2022 Sasha - Business Strategist Season 1 Episode 30
Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit
Don't Ignore These Client Red Flags
Show Notes Transcript

Get ready for a fun topic because today I'm talking about all the reasons you don't need that client! If you're in the service industry you have probably had your fair share of problem clients. We've all been there. But here's the thing. Many of these problem clients let us know before they ever paid an invoice that they were going to be trouble. Are you paying attention to those red flags or is the prospect of money clouding your judgment. In this week's episode, I'm diving into those red flags you might be ignoring. 

Episode Resources:

Client Red Flags You Shouldn’t Ignore

Episode Transcript

A Boundless Audio Podcast Network Show 

Support the show

Part of the Boundless Audio Podcast Network


Welcome to Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit. Whether you're new in business or find yourself in a season of change, get ready to build a strategy, create an action plan and crush those goals. I'm Sasha, host a strategy for creatives. And I help female led businesses grow their brands in authentic, measurable and meaningful ways, without the stress. There's no sugar coated here, I'm serving up real tips and actionable steps you can take to help get you organized, get off the path to burnout and grow your brand like a boss. So go ahead, pull up a chair, grab a notepad, and let's talk business. Welcome to another episode of Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit. And today we are talking about client red flags - the things that our clients should do, that means we should probably fire them, and they don't need to be our clients. A lot of the times when we are starting in business, we see these things happening over and over again. We know that we probably shouldn't be allowing this behavior from our clients. But yet, because we are desperate to make money, we are so happy that somebody has decided to work with our business, that we end up ignoring these signs. And we essentially move forward with these clients and we hate the experience. And we often start to wonder whether or not this is what having a business is; if this is the type of clients that we're going to have? Does that mean that we shouldn't be doing this? We start not to enjoy what we're doing in our business anymore, because frankly, the clients that we are working with aren't the right clients. And so I wanted to just go over today, a couple of client red flags, that as an action item, if you are experiencing any of these with clients, I want you to really consider whether or not you want to spend your time working with these clients, or if it might just be better off for you to gently fire them and say that you're not a good fit to be working with them. There's nothing wrong with firing clients, I help actually some of my clients do that with people that they work with. Because it drains so much from our spirits, it can really make us hate our business. And so if a client is doing any of these things, I highly encourage you to think about walking away from that client relationship. The very first one is if a client does not pay on time. That means that they don't really have a respect for your business, right. If you are sending a proposal, and they agree to it, they sign a contract and then that invoice becomes due, and they do not pay you and they haven't expressed to you prior to this, whether they need assistance or a payment plan or something to that nature, then that can be a signal of a red flag that maybe this client isn't for you. Because clients who are ready and willing to work with you are going to pay that invoice right away, no questions asked. They're not going to haggle on it. They're not going to feel that they should get a discount. They're not going to express reservations about working with you. I actually just had a client who sent a proposal to someone, they said they were going to sign; they were interested in working with her. And then over probably the next two weeks, they never made that invoice payment. And so she followed up with them, let them know that we were going to close out that invoice because it clearly didn't seem like it was the right fit for them at the time. And that if they decided to change their mind, we were more than willing to work with them again in the future, just to let us know. Of course, that client waited a month before they got back to her to let her know that they were ready to move forward. But they had a couple of things that were coming up. And you know, they were a little nervous about spending that much money working with her. But you know, they were still excited about it. And just, they would reach back out in a few weeks once they were done with whatever they had coming up. My client gently sent them an email that pretty much said, "Thank you so much for letting us know, but we just don't feel that we're the right fit for you". And that's because clients should be wanting and ready to work with you. So if they are sending you or sending that invoice and they aren't paying you on time; if they're always consistently late, for one that means they're probably not managing their business right there. They're not having a good financial strategy. They don't know what their cash flow is and that's affecting your ability to get paid. So if they are not paying you on time, I want you to think about whether or not that's something that you're willing to have in your business or you're willing to accept in your business in order to keep working with this client. I also think that it is a huge red flag if someone is expecting constant availability from you. I have very clear boundaries. In my business, if you try to schedule a meeting with me through my Calendly link, you will see that I only have certain days, certain hours that I am available. And that is on purpose. Because I value my work-life balance immensely. When I am with my family, I am with my family. I'm with my friends, I'm hanging out with friends. I'm not worried or focused on any business client on any business work, when it's off hours. When five o'clock comes around, and it is time for me to take my son to soccer or T ball, I'm not worried about anything that has to do with my clients. And that's because my clients don't expect constant availability from me. And I make sure that when I am meeting with potential clients that I've told them this upfront. You know, you will we always get to a point in an interview, or when you're talking to someone and you know, they asked, do you have any questions of me? Or is there anything I should know about you. And I let my clients know when I'm doing my discovery calls with clients, I just want you to know, I value my work-life balance very much. And so while I am available to you, you are more than welcome to email me, you can expect between a 24 and 48 hour turnaround to be responded to, most likely it's within 24 hours. The following business day. But I do stipulate that so that they are aware of what my boundaries are, and that I don't work on the weekends. Now, some weekends, I actually do work. I do come to my office and I'll sit and do some some of my own back end work. But I'm not doing anything client facing on the weekend. And that's because I don't want my clients to expect me to be constantly available to them. That's not how I function in my life. And I don't think that's how most people should function. That goes a lot with hustle culture and the you know, go go go. And then we always have to be available to clients. You don't. And if a client expects you to be constantly available to them, that is draining. That will drain the life of you out of you very quickly. And so that is a huge red flag that I want you to think about. If they are texting you at all hours of the night. If they're emailing you every hour and expecting a response from you quickly or immediately, then you need to set better client communications with them. What that standard looks like for you. And then if they continue to break that boundary with you, then it might be time to let that client go. You also want to consider clients who are not open to change. Clients who are wary of anything new, try to push back on anything that you're trying to do with them is a red flag, especially when you're in the services industry. If you are a photographer, if you are a designer, if you are in social media, and they are constantly pushing back to change, they are going to be difficult to work with. If their response to things are, for example, if you are a designer, and they come to you and they say I know what I want already, I have these colors picked out. I want my logo to look exactly like this. And I want my website to look exactly like this. And they have no flexibility in that, they're not willing to open up and be open to the idea that you present as an expert in your field, you don't want to work with that client because they will be difficult to work with. And you won't want to showcase them in your portfolio, it won't be a good experience for you. Because people who aren't open to your expertise aren't going to be the best people to work with. Because they're going to make that process difficult for you. 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. Now that doesn't mean clients can't know what they want. Clients can come to you and say, Hey, I think I want these colors, this really speaks to me, or I want a design that incorporates this, but I'm open to suggestions. Or for example for me, if I have clients who are into strategy, and they're like, Hey, I do this. And this is the only way I can do things. And they're not open to the idea of working in a different way that client is going to be hard to work with and then probably going to get upset with me that they're not seeing the changes in their business or the results in their business that they want. And it's because they're not willing to make changes. And so you want clients that are open to your expertise that are open to your ideas, and that are open to change that you're offering A huge client red flag is anyone who refuses to sign a contract. them. You also don't want to work with anyone who has unrealistic expectations. So that includes everything from the timeliness of how you communicate to when project should be done, to what If they are not willing to sign your contract, do not work with the outcome is going to be at the very end. For example, again, if you're going back to the constant availability - if them. A contract is meant to protect you and the person you are setting what your boundaries are, and that your the way that you communicate with clients, for example, is through email, and they want to text you all the time. That is signing the contract. Go back to the episode I did on the basics an unrealistic expectation for them. I don't give out my number to anyone that I work with. Because I don't want people to of contracts. It is meant to protect your business and the text me. I've decided that my boundary is that you can email me, or you can send me a message on Instagram or on Facebook, and person signing that contract. It puts protections in place for I'll respond to you that way. I don't want to give out my personal number. Because I don't want people infringing on my time. I also say to my one-on-one strategy clients that both of you. And if they refuse to sign a contract, then they the expectation that you should have when you work with me isn't a specific thing, because I can't guarantee that. I can't should not be getting anything that you are offering in your guarantee certain outcomes unless my clients are willing to put in the work. If you are willing to work, then you will see changes happen in your business. But I can't guarantee business. A contract is meant to protect you. Every person that I that. And so if a client comes to me and say that they want to work with me, and they expect to get an extra like $10,000 a know that has worked with someone after they refuse to month in revenue, I'm not going to work with them. Because And then lastly, a client red flag is if they micromanage you. The good thing about having our businesses is that we get to decide how we work. And some of our businesses do mean that we that's an unrealistic expectation. I don't know what work with others if you're a virtual assistant, if your online business manager, if you're things like that, that their level of effort will be. I don't know how serious they are you're constantly having contact with other businesses. But they sign a contract has regretted it. Something has come up in shouldn't be micromanaging how you work, when you work, or things like that. If they are always requiring that you check going to be about putting in the work for their business. And so in at like 8am every morning, and that's not your business hours. Or if they are asking every five minutes, you know, where are we at with this project? Or what's the next step I'm not going to guarantee that and so if people are coming to with this? They're not trusting you with your own skills and how which was stipulated in their contract that would have you can manage projects. And so anybody who micromanages should be a red flag to you because the opposite of micromanaging is you in your business and have unrealistic expectations of what someone who trusts you. Someone who trusts your ability to get work done. Someone who trust that you know what you're doing. And all they should be able to do is provide direction for you, they expect to get from your business, that is a red flag, or tell you what they need, and that they trust you to go ahead protected them. Had they had that contract they would have and continue on. And that you'll get back to them and you want to be wary of that. Because that is going to be hard you'll give them what they're looking for. So that is a red flag. If they are micromanaging you it's also exhausting. And nobody really wants to deal with micro managers. for you to manage. I also had a client who again, does social So again, action item for today's episode is to kind of go through some of these client red flags that I gave. And I want been fine. But now they have nothing to point back to, and you to think about whether or not you have some of these with media, and she would get potential clients coming to her current clients of yours and whether or not it really does serve you to serve these clients. Because all money is not good money. It is stressful when we have clients that don't and they say I want to grow my Instagram following by you know, respect our time and our skills. We go into business because we want to enjoy what we're doing with our business and we want to 2000 followers a month. That's unrealistic. That's not how you always end up disastrously. It's always someone who's trying to serve clients and we want to have happy clients. But that doesn't mean that it should come at an expense of our sanity and our stress levels. And so when you feel that clients are really growing your Instagram following unless you're, you know, getting stretching your patience or they're wearing you thin or you do not enjoy working with them, I promise you that you will be okay letting go of the money that you're making from them and bought followers or things like that. So you want to tamp down gaining yours stress free and sanity free life back. Like you nickel and dime them at the end, someone who doesn't want to pay will love being able to fire a client who is causing you stress because it will make you immediately less stressed when if you can set what those realistic expectations are going you no longer have to work with them. I've seen it time and time again, with clients that I have, where they stress about whether to be at the beginning and let them know this is what's or not they should keep a client on board. And they really don't like working with this client because this client does not respect their time or their expertise, or anything that realistic. This is what can you can expect for my business and for services rendered. Someone who doesn't like the timeline of their business is offering. And the minute they send an email that says thank you for working with me, I no longer think that they're receptive to that, that's fine. But if they are we're a good fit, but I appreciate you know, you've worked with me in the past, they immediately feel so much relief, because they've gotten rid of these clients who were coming back, and they're saying like, no, this is what I need, presenting a lot of these red flags at the beginning. But again, they just wanted to make some money, and they were things. Do not work with anyone who is not going to sign your contract. willing to kind of take it on. So don't be afraid to let this is what I want, then that should give you pause. And that clients go. Look at the red flags that clients are presenting. And let them be your guide between whether or not it makes sense to have these clients in your business. Client should make you think about whether or not you actually want red flags are real and it's important to pay attention to them. So that way you can actually enjoy who you're servicing and your business and enjoy your business without it to work with them. being stressful. Are you ready to uplevel your business? Join the five day be your own CEO challenge. All the details are available on the website at If you liked what you heard, make sure you rate and review. It really helps other people find the show. And of course, following subscribe on your favorite podcast platforms. Want to follow me on social? I'm on Instagram and Facebook at Strategy By Sasha. Make sure you tune in next Tuesday for more business tips. Part of the Boundless Audio Podcast Network.