4 Lessons I Learned From My Worst Client
It f#&king sucks! You know…working with the client who has regular lunch dates with Lucifer.
Overall the majority of my clients have been a pleasure to work with. Of course there have been hiccups and bumps, but nothing beyond what a decent compromise wouldn’t clear up.
However, there was one client in particular, so diabolical that I would have to give him the honor of being my greatest teacher. We shall refer to him as…”HELL CLIENT”
You see, we don’t learn a great deal or grow as professionals through the pleasant times. It is adversity that provides the best learning opportunity.
By working with one truly bad client, I learned four lessons that have shaped my entire entrepreneurial mindset.
1) Be the Doctor, Not The Waiter:
People visit the doctor because they feel as though the doctor has a solution for their ailment. In the patients eyes the doctor is the professional and knows best. We visit restaurants because there is the convenience of being waited on. We tell our waiters what we want/ need and they do it.
By giving in to my “Hell Client’s” every request early on in the project, I lost the power of being the professional and became his waiter. He micromanaged every aspect of the project from that point on. The minute I put my foot down and placed my scrubs back on, that was the moment everything went down hill.
Lesson Learned: Always position yourself as the professional expert and maintain that expert/client boundary!
2) Make Sure Your Contract Protects Your ASSets:
When you attend law school at Google University, sometimes that degree doesn’t hold its weight in a disagreement. During the course of the project with my “Hell Client”, our original agreement had to be modified twice. My initial contract was more so a “layman’s term” contract because I thought it was cool and easy to read by using everyday language. Quickly I learned how not covering every aspect of a project, in detail, can lead to days of headaches, useless compromises, and a waste of money for both me and the client.
Lesson Learned: Invest in a lawyer and make sure your contract is legit, fair, and most importantly protects your business!
3) Know Your Worth:
Seeing that this “Hell Client” was one of my first major contracts I wanted to do everything I could to make sure I closed the deal. At the time $6,000 looked more like $60,000,000,000. I slashed service rates and put together special packages just so he wouldn’t walk away from the table. And It worked! But, I paid a hefty price.
The client didn’t value or appreciate the amount of work I had put in on the project. And to make matters worst, by time we got through the project and all the man hours waisted on the BS, that $6,000 turned in to $0.06.
Lesson Learned: Charge what you are worth and never devalue your services by providing unearned discounts.
4) Know When to Walk Away:
After months of agonizing headaches, push back on every single solution created, hiring additional branding help from outside parties without consulting me, meetings galore, and utter disrespect for my expertise and me as a person — I had enough!
I fired the client.
I was fed up with being his little bitch and it was time to part ways. Of course this lead to a whole other heap of issues and lawyers came to the table, which made that $6,000 initial profit now become $0.00006.
Best part about this was the fact that the headaches were all gone!
Lesson Learned: Learn how to qualify clients better in the beginning and if things aren’t working out, part ways sooner than later.
My “Hell Client” happened four years ago and I am honestly grateful to have worked with him. I only mentioned four lessons, but I learned a lot more from that experience then just the former lessons.
As awful as that situation was, there was a great deal of positivity that come from it. That client and project pushed me to grow as an entrepreneur, a creative, and a person.
I have not spoken to the client since, but I sometimes check out his website and I am glad to see that the ideas and work I created for him are still being utilized and helping him grow his business. One thing is for sure…if he called looking for services again, I would douse him in Holy water and walk away.