Happy (belated) New Year!
It’s the second month in the year and I can feel time moving by very fast; before we know what hit us we would be celebrating Christmas again!
I trust that just like everyone else, you set goals and targets for the year; have you achieved any of your goals for the year? What business/financial goal did you set and which have you achieved? You would agree with me that you can’t go to a new level with an old strategy; to do new things, you need a new strategy. One of such strategies is choosing the type of customers you would be working with and those you would be avoiding this year. This single strategy can make or break your business/financial goals for 2016!
I started my hands on web design last year – it began as a past time something I did for the pure joy of creating something. But like the true entrepreneur that I am, after a while I decided to monetize it. It wasn’t a rosy experience, and one very important lesson I learnt was that you have the ability to choose who your customer is. That single decision goes a long way in determining your peace of mind during the project, and the success of the project overall.
In my opinion, you should use the magic word NO to these 5 types of customers this year…but, again, that is if you want to achieve your financial goals, in peace.
- The Know-It-All
This customer claims to be more knowledgeable than you on the subject and would eagerly let you know this from the onset. They would make statements such as;
“Isn’t it just java code? I was the best in my class in school, I have just gone off it for a while but I still know some few things”
“When I was still active in the industry I used to make 20 cakes per day, it’s not that hard”
They mostly make these statements when you talk about money or project deadlines. The statement “I know how to do it, I just don’t have the time” is the winner here. Now, it’s not wrong to have a client that is knowledgeable (or more knowledgeable than you) about the subject matter, be it sewing or coding, but an important ingredient in the entrepreneur-client relationship is mutual respect.
The client should respect your knowledge and abilities and trust that you can do your job, and do it well. Likewise, you should acknowledge your client’s knowledge without feeling insecure about your own.
A client that constantly undermines your capabilities in the name of knowing more would only bring you headaches, and can adversely affect your confidence in delivering your service. It’s best to humbly advice such people to do it themselves.
- The Openly Disrespectful
This customer believes that as the customer they have the right to talk to you in any way they so please. They will call you at odd hours, even if you clearly stated the hours which you work. They would raise their voice at you and make rude and sarcastic comments from time to time. They believe they are doing you a favor and you should be grateful they picked you for the job in the first place.
Except you are one with low self-esteem, this is one client you should flee from. They will make work as unpleasant as they can, and they will enjoy doing it. The consequence of this is dampened morale, sadness, depression, and you would literally struggle through the project and may even end up delivering below standard, which will lead to even more disrespect.
For example, after telling one customer how much I was going to charge her; instead of negotiating, she immediately changed from her US accent to a crude Nigerian accent. According to her, I had no right to charge that much as I was young and in a field of men. She also said I should be grateful to be able to charge less. I thanked her for the advice, restated my price and told her to think to about it. I happily didn’t call her again.
- The Sexist
This client would look down at you because of your gender (in my case, female), and doubt your ability to do the job well because of your gender. They would expect you to be soft, slow and shy and to behave in a certain way.
After asking a particular client to pay money he owed me, he said he was shocked at me and concluded that I must be a tough woman. He then advised that it’s not good for a woman to be that way. He went on to say that he didn’t expect me to be so straight to the point, and I should soften up a bit and leave the hard things to the men. Chai!
But this isn’t restricted to men. An older female client was giving me advice (of course after money negotiations) about how I seem like one of those harsh, tough ladies and it’s not good for me as am still single. This type of clients can make you angry and feel bad about yourself if you aren’t strong enough. Business isn’t male or female, its business, but these sort of clients won’t see you or treat you as a business person.
- The Over-Negotiator
Negotiation is great! I pride myself on being a good negotiator but the over-negotiator wants to reduce your fee to the barest minimum, and they will do it in the worst possible manner.
Let’s say your fee is 50,000 Naira. They will ask to pay 10,000, when you refuse, they would ask you how much your profit is and then tell you how much you should charge. They are quick to tell you how much 10 of your competitors are charging, and why your own price doesn’t make any sense.
Over-negotiators remind you that they are doing you a favour – their sister does the same thing even better but they just want to sow into your business growth. They spew wisdom about how what comes around goes around and one day you might need their help. While your prices shouldn’t be over-the-top, it should fit your target market, and should be enough to cover your expenses with a little profit on top. If you want to achieve your financial goals this year, you sure don’t want this client any more.
- The Unsatisfiable
Don’t confuse this client with a perfectionist who wants things done properly. The unsatisfiable anticipates an error in everything, and if there is none, he thinks up an additional feature to include.
I was about 90% done with a client’s website not long ago when the client had me tear down the entire thing and rebuild it. Why? Because he saw a new design he wanted to try. Aaarghhh! (He didn’t pay extra!).
No matter what you do, this client won’t be pleased with your work, and they may be disrespectful while at it. They will doubt your abilities, question your judgement and nag you. Deadlines would extend far beyond agreed timelines, plus these jobs leave you spending too much time on a project you should have wrapped up.
Whatever you do, avoid these clients as much as you can. They would come your way smiling and looking like they won’t bite. But you need to recognize them from afar.
Finally, don’t waste your energy on clients that would leave you worse than they met you. Spend that time developing your skills and becoming more valuable to better clients. Don’t get caught in the trap of dead-end clients and projects this year.
I wish you great success!