How to identify good clients and avoid the bad ones

So, as they say, the client is always right, yes?


While we should love and serve our clients, as entrepreneurs, we have our own rights, too. And we have to make sure that we enjoy working for great clients and protect ourselves from abusive ones.

With about 10 years of experience in the outsourcing web based services, I've probably encountered the best and the worst of clients. From clients who are so appreciative and cooperating and generous to some pain-in-the-butt, cursing-to-your-face devil's apostle. (Ok, I'm exaggerating. Or maybe I'm not.)

You look for great clients, that's a given. You want a client who are straight to the point, pays on time and appreciates your work once in a while. It's the bad clients that is hard to identify. This article from Smashing Magazine is very useful on how to detect the bad ones. Here are 5 identifiers — raise a red flag if you see one or two of these to a client.

The customer is abusive.

This is an easy one. You should be treated with respect and dignity, and you should not tolerate any kind of abusive language or behavior. Period.

You don’t get paid on time.
You are not a bank. Be willing to bend over backwards for your clients, but they must pay you on time. A customer who doesn’t understand this will hurt your cash flow and, eventually, your business.

You get phone calls at nights or on weekends, even though you insisted otherwise.
People have to respect your time and not act as though they own it. You are selling your professional services, not yourself.

The scope of the project perpetually increases, but the customer refuses to increase the budget.
This happens a lot. You start a logo, and then the client asks you to throw in a website. The responsibility for setting expectations is yours, but if you do that, and the customer still pushes for more without being willing to increase the budget, then you’ll end up with an unprofitable business.

The customer doesn’t respect you professionally and ignores your recommendations.
To stop caring and just take orders from the customer takes all the fun out of a project. It kills your productivity, erodes your portfolio and stunts your skills.