You’re on a blind date.
You pull up to the bar and order a delicious hard cider.
Your date rolls up, already trashed and reeking of beer, and immediately starts complaining about all of the people they’ve dated in the past.
“But yooooou are different. You’re special. I can tell,” they gush, sloppily. “Want to head back to my place?”
Uh, no thanks.
You can tell – instantly – that this person is a creep.
Or, who knows, maybe they’re decent but just going through a serious rough patch.
They are NOT the one for you.
In the dating world, most people can sniff out an icky situation in about five seconds flat.
The signs are clear. The only sensible option… is to bolt.
But when we’re talking about the business world?
Many business owners get completely confused (“Maybe this totally rude and pushy client is actually… a total sweetheart?”)
Or they get desperate (“I reeeeally need to bring some revenue in the door. I don’t have a choice. I’ve gotta say yes.”).
They choose to ignore the glaring red flags that signal a NIGHTMARE client.
A lot of sick, sad business partnerships.
Don’t let a nightmare client creepy-creep into your world and wreck your zen.
Here are the RED FLAGS to watch out for:
(You won’t have to look very hard. These red flags are probably littered all throughout your potential client’s very first email or conversation with you.)
RED FLAG #1. They have rigid (or unrealistic) expectations.
“I want to hire you because I want to lose 45 pounds by my 45th birthday, which is 45 days away.”
Yikes. Good luck with that.
RED FLAG #2. They complain about all of the “others,” but see you as a “magic bullet.”
“I have hired SO many copywriters and NOBODY gets me! I just KNOW that YOU are going to be THE ONE who can finally capture my voice and help me make 7 figures this year!”
Tough love: if you’ve burned through half a dozen service providers, and every single one of those partnerships disappointed you, the common denominator… might be you.
RED FLAG #3. They tell you a sob story or try to haggle.
“I loooooove your work but, gosh, I’m wondering, can I pay you half of that, pweeeease?” Better yet, can you just work for free? [bats eyelashes, hopefully]
Clients who don’t value your worth? NEVER. EVER. FUN. EVER.
RED FLAG #4. They sound panicked and desperate.
“My wedding is in TWO DAYS and I need to find a venue, a dress, a photographer, and possibly a marriage counselor because my groom won’t speak to me. Can you help me plan the event????”
Good GOD. NO.
Nightmare clients are not “bad people.”
They might just be going through a temporary shitstorm of craziness, or having a rough year, or maybe they’re hopped up on cold medicine and slurrily emailing you at 4am in a haze of delirium.
But regardless of what’s causing them to misbehave, you can ALWAYS tell, right away, if someone is going to be a pleasure to work with… or not.
If the red flags are flapping, do BOTH of you a favor and say NO.
Keep it classy, of course. Offer your best wishes, and maybe a helpful resource or two. Then send them on their way.
Even if you’re feeling a bit desperate, like you really coulda used that client booking… trust me. It’s not worth it.
The emotional price that you pay, when working with a nightmare client, is way too high. No matter how much they pay you.
And THAT… is the truth.