Making “Exceptions” Might Be Making You Broke

Natalie MacNeil talks about client relationship management

Many times, when I start working with a new client and do a little business check-up with them, I find they have often have a slew of their own clients who aren’t paying on time, or are paying a super discounted rate, or getting a ton of freebies. Why? Because my client went down the rabbit hole of making too many exceptions.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally believe in making exceptions once in a while and going above and beyond to make your customers happy. BUT…

**Don’t let exceptions turn into expectations or you could find yourself in the category of broke entrepreneur!** (Click to tweet!)

So how do you stop making so many exceptions? Join me for this week’s episode of She Takes on the World TV and I’ll show you!



To watch today’s episode of She Takes on the World TV, click here:

Recap time! Here’s what you should do to tame the exception-granting monster and gain more respect from your clients:

1. Have very clear contracts in place. Make sure your clients know up front when their payments are due and how much they are paying. Platforms like make it super easy for you. (I use this for my own business.)

2. If you’re sending an invoice, make sure clear terms are outlined, for example, “Payments are due within 30 days and late payments will be assessed a penalty of 1.5% for each day the payment is late.”

3. Gently assert your boundaries. If someone does start to cross boundaries with your time, instead of letting it slide make sure you send a gentle reminder or have a chat with them about the services you do provide and the ones that aren’t included. You’ll know it’s time to have this talk when you’re feeling drained and broke because you are giving way too much without being compensated.

My actionable for you this week is to make an inventory of how you’re making exceptions for people in your business, and then create a plan of attack to make it stop.


Look at the exceptions that are sucking time and money from your business, and take a bold step to correct the problem by sending a contract, revising your invoices, or sending a friendly reminder next time someone oversteps boundaries. And I’d love for you to let me know in a comment below if you’ve ever dealt with sticky situation like this, and what you did to remedy it.

In most cases, your client will have more respect for you for actually saying something. Because then you can both move forward in a more positive way. The truth is, people will respect you for respecting yourself and those who don’t aren’t worth your time anyway!

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4 thoughts on “Making “Exceptions” Might Be Making You Broke

  1. Hi Natalie,

    This is great timing for me. I actually have a client right now who has been causing me stress because they want to work with me, but they aren’t sure if they can afford it (looking for handouts, discounts, etc.). It’s really frustrating and I’m starting to feel like they’re taking advantage.

    I am going to come up with a polite way to let them know that while I can give them some wiggle room on pricing, I still have to run a successful business and that means turning a profit.


  2. Natalie, this is so apt for us right now!

    We have literally had this conversation in the last few weeks and decided it’s our way or the highway! We will obviously still be helpful as much as possible, but actually the people who are right for you will pay and stay, and those who aren’t – well, let’s just say they need to find another solution… 😉

  3. Thank you Natalie, You just really confirmed something I was dealing with last night! My local community hub for parents has been growing really well, the audience is really engaged and loving the information I’m collating for them, the interviews / expert advice I’ve been sharing etc. But it’s getting to the point where medium/big businesses in my community are starting to expect me to promote them or share their content for free, when I KNOW that they have big marketing budgets and can afford my rediculously low online advertising & sponsored content rates. They sponsor big events in our town, they produce huge glossy catalogues, yet they won’t give me a few dollars to advertise on the website, or a few dollars to write an advertorial on my blog. I’ve been grappling with how to tell them to stop, and say no. I’ve sent them gentle emails saying thank you for sharing your content with my audience and by the way, you might be interested in visiting my “work with us” page for more info on our advertising options and supporting our great community service. But then they just stop dead, and I never hear from them again. I’ve only been operating 4 months, and I’ve been nominated for a business award in our town which is AWESOME, but so far I’ve only had one paying customer. I can feel how close I am to landing some more customers, it’s something I can sense…and I know once I have another, I’ll get another, and another. But I don’t want to scare them away. The more face to face networking I do in my town the more feedback I keep hearing from people who have heard about my site and they all say it’s great, so I will keep doing that. But there are certain people who expect my work for free. Thanks Natalie 🙂

  4. I’ve been struggling with all of this for the last year. My very first class that I did, everyone said that it was too expensive (it’s not), but every single one of them came up with the money. I was shocked. I heard something last night about me — “I don’t assume that it’s true. I don’t assume that it is.” it may just be that people aren’t ready to buy into what you are selling. You can help them get there though.

    Thanks for a great piece of advice Natalie.

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