The most heart rending calls I get from my clients are when they are deeply unhappy with one of their own clients. They feel sick every time they hear them on the phone because the call is usually bringing a deadline forward, changing the scope of the project, making unreasonable demands or haggling over an invoice.
It’s impossible to do good work under these circumstances and even if good work gets done, it doesn’t get recognised.
Working ‘just’ for money isn’t enough.
That’s all very well for me to say, I hear you cry, but its true. If you do good work (and a bad client can cause you to doubt this, but that’s another story) you deserve praise and satisfaction as well as money for your work.
Why would you picnic near a cow pat?
You have a great client and a client from hell. Which one do you spend most time thinking about, most time trying to please, most time worrying what they think of you? The wrong one, that’s who!
This is the equivalent of putting your picnic blanket next to a cow pat when you could put it next to patch of daisies! Why sit in a pile of manure when you could be sitting in clover?
The double bind is that while you spend so much time on the bad client, your good clients could feel neglected. The time you spend trying to appease a hopeless cause could be spent finding more good clients.
Its not all their fault
What are your terms and conditions like? Do they give clear specifications about how you work, what you expect from your client and what they can expect from you? If not that’s easily sorted. Less easy is how you handle ‘scope creep’ – the extras that a client asks you to do without charging – but once you’ve got that sorted in your head and know how to value your work, its much easier to deal with – before it becomes an issue.
Time to call time
If you have a client that takes up too much head space, makes you feel sick and is stopping you from getting on with the work you love to do, the first step is to tell them that you have a problem with them and invoke your T&Cs. If that doesn’t work there’s only one solution. Sack them.
Walk away from them.
Don’t look back.
Spend the time you have available finding clients who love you.