Why taking on ALL clients is bad for business

When I fly, I like to read, clean out my inbox or organize my photo’s. In other words, I like to stay busy and be as productive as I can in the uncomfortable circumstances that is modern air travel.
On a recent trip, I was lost in a great book. Midway through the flight my seatmate asked me “do you own a small business”
“Yes, I do,” I responded “I am an author & business relationship coach. I work with high-stress, purpose-driven clients to avoid soul-sucking clients …” before I could finish my sentence, my neighbor interjected with a familiar nugget of wisdom that I hear all too often, and couldn’t disagree with more.
“Sometimes you just have to suck it up and take any client you can get for your business.”

NO! No, you do not need to, nor should you, work with clients or staff who waste your time, money and energy with their negative, disruptive even dysfunctional behavior.

Because the fact of the matter is that this way of thinking will not only destroy your business, but it will attack your self-esteem, weaken your boundaries and leave you in such a negative mindset that you, as a purpose-driven professional, will start to question your worth and your mission.

I asked him what his line of work was. “I work with attorneys to help bankrupt and failing businesses get the legal protection they need, and I deal with collection cases with small businesses.”

Well, That explains it. His work sounds like a pretty high-stress, high stakes purpose driven field to me, which is why he felt so passionately about helping these businesses and so strongly about ‘making them see’ what they needed to do to ‘still make it’.

He sees clients at their very worst. When it is, or is almost, too late for their businesses. Unfortunately, his solution to ‘take any client you can get to bring money in the door’ can be the last straw for the business, but just as important, their mission and self-esteem.

I feel for him, and his clients. I am also passionate about my clients and want them to fulfill their mission and feel great about it while they do so. I wish that I could have connected with his clients when they first got an inkling that things were going off track. When they first began to feel taken advantage of or when the stress and anxiety were screaming at them that something is ‘not quite right’.

Before they agreed to do work that was off mission or said yes when they meant no. Before they delivered work-product outside of their contract
The choices that they made along the way, the lack of clear boundaries that led them to the point that they need bankruptcy support or are in collections. That feel, or are at least told, that any client is better than none and they have to suck it up and take it.

I get it, as a business owner, it is all up to you to keep the lights on.
It is hard to put the “Difficult Happens”, “Profit First”, “Start with Why” lessons into action when you are floundering with attracting the best employees and working with the right client.
If you only know that “something is wrong” and not the ‘why’ and ‘how’, then the entire working relationship can get derailed.

I get it Mr. bankruptcy man, I get it. But taking any client isn’t the answer.

When soul-sucking, time wasting, cringe-worthy clients are given free reign, they learn that running over people is how you do business and it makes them a “tough negotiator”. The Bullies of the world have run things far too long.

There is a way, a better way, to protect yourself, your mission, and your business.

When you know where your boundaries need strengthening, what topics, situations, and judgments make you feel attacked and what signs you need to watch for; you and your mission Will flourish.

Want to learn more about how you and your staff can deal with pushy clients? Book a strategy session with me today.


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