Do You Need To Break Up With A Bad Client?

Have you ever worked with a client who makes you a little crazy, and brings a ton of stress to your life? Of course you have. We’ve all been there, and today’s episode of She Takes on the World TV has your back.

Once you realize you’ve got a bad client on your hands, it’s important to identify how the relationship is interfering with your life so that it becomes clear what you need to do next:

Break up with your client.

Just like your friends would tell you that you should never stay in a bad relationship, you should never keep working with a client that drains your energy, and makes you miserable. By clearing your schedule of working with a bad client, you free up space and time for working with your ideal customers.

In today’s episode of She Takes on the World TV I share my tips on breaking up with a client, and give you the script I’ve used in the past when I’ve had to end a client relationship. Watch the episode below (or click here):

Now I want to hear from you!

Tell us about your bad client stories below. I’m sure you’ve got one to share! Let us know how you got out of the relationship too. I think there’s a lot we can learn from each other on this topic.

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14 thoughts on “Do You Need To Break Up With A Bad Client?

    1. I always think it’s best to try to keep it amicable and as friendly as possible, although feelings get hurt and it doesn’t always end with the door left open. It’s also not always that the client is awful, sometimes it’s just a matter of you not being a good personality fit and there is someone better you could both be working with. I do try to leave a door open though!

  1. It may be a bit different in a retail environment to break up with a client. I have (or should say, had) a really interesting customer who purchased several high ticket items from our business, then subsequently returned them for refund, claiming defects. One time I would believe, but 4 returns is just too much of a coincidence. My only recourse was to flag this customer and advise all staff to never sell them anything but standard products that we offer. I last refunded them nearly $400.00 (fourth return of merchandise claimed as defective when really it was simply subjected to abuse) so… we’re done!

    1. Thanks for giving your perspective as a retail entrepreneur, since I speak more to service-based business owners who do client work. So do you think this customer was buying clothes to wear and then returning them after a party, dinner, etc? I think you definitely made the right decision. Has this person come back?

  2. I have done this a lot since joining WEM 🙂 It has made such a difference in the stress levels of my day. The crazy client that demands you drop everything thing for them was starting to feel like my normal. It was scary to say good-bye to that extra income but the reality of is I have plenty of respectful clients who want to work with me and I am much happier.

  3. You look very profeshhhhhh in this video Natalie!

    I don’t have a bad client story to share because I have a secret trick that I do before I take on any new client. It’s easy, fun & it gives me a CLEAR indication if we’re a match made in Goddess Heaven or in Goblin Hell.

    Reply to my comment if you wanna know my trick 😉

    1. Of course we’d love for you to share Caroline. And I agree that screening processes are very important. I’m usually a pretty good judge of whether someone is my ideal client but every once in awhile I get a surprise 😉

      1. Have you ever thought you had been a good judge of character but you still had a nagging “feeling”? Like a contraction in your solar plexus (or heart) or even had a drop of energy?

        This is how my intuition speaks to me but it’s different for everyone. You can use the 3 steps in my video to get a “yes” or a “no” and this trick would work really well to see if you really want to “hire” a client LOL

        Like everything, practice makes perfect so start first with small decisions and work your wy up to bigger decision once you are confident in how your intuition speaks to you.

        In Joy,


  4. Natalie, I love your videos! I can always relate deeply to the topics you bring up.

    I once had a client like this and it was difficult emotionally to handle, especially because when you’re a new entrepreneur you lack the confidence to stand for yourself – and you learn the hard way to do it!

    Definitely being professional, brief and honest were the key factors in handling that situation properly. Whenever something frustrating happens with a client, I also always remember that there are two sides to every story and that no matter how hurt I am, the person in front of me deserves respect which means concretely that we must show mutual respect and move on.

    I do think that to some (high) degree, business *is* personal. This is, I believe, the reality of many “one-(wo)man-show” type of businesses; so while it’s essential to leave one’s emotions out of it, it really is a struggle. It’s a work in progress, I guess.

    Finally I analyzed the situation afterwards and asked myself – what happened there? Reality was that our personalities didn’t connect at all and many things on each other’s end could have been handled better. I listed everything I didn’t like about the situation and brainstormed how I could make sure that this situation doesn’t happen again. I implemented quickly these new solutions. My clients now are typically the perfect fit for my personality and style and I improved aspects of my business that I identified as being part of why it didn’t work with this client. I’m in a much better place now!

    Identifying the cause and the solution for this situation was extremely helpful. I decided to see it as a life lesson. It definitely is part of an entrepreneur’s learning curve.

    Now I sincerely wish to this client and any client the best and to find the right people for them because life is too short to focus on what’s wrong 😉

    – Nadine

  5. Love this! Firing clients was one of the boldest moves I made in my business but one of the BEST things I could have done! Your tips were great and spot on! Couldn’t agree with you more!

  6. Amazing advice, Natalie, I’m so happy you’re talking about this. As a client whisperer, I find that toxic clients are silent killers for small biz owners. All that drama and stress murders your enthusiasm and energy for doing your best work with that client, and sadly, your other clients, too.

    Happily, it’s never too late to take back control in your business. First, you want to get yourself in the winning mindset to have the conversation by eliminating negative feelings. Then, it’s time to assess what happened, what you’d like to see happen next and what to say, which is all covered in my online retreat program designed to work with sticky client dilemmas. (Hope you don’t mind I mentioned it)

    My biggest tip? DON’T skip the part where you process your negative emotions. They’re like sludge, if you bury them they will leak out anyway at the wrong moment.

    Running your business without knowing your triggers and emotions is like driving your car with your eyes closed. You’re gonna end up somewhere you really don’t want to be.

    This is one of the greatest problems facing women entrepreneurs so I’m grateful to you for taking it on!

  7. I had the most challenging client of my career about 6-8 months ago. If I had truly listened to my gut, I would not have taken it on in the first place. However, that being said… it has been the absolute best learning experience. It helped me turn my business from small-time to pro, by forcing me to really refine my process. How did I do the breakup?

    The stress was causing me emotional and even physical pain, and I got to my breaking point. I jotted down all of my thoughts, emotional or not, as well as the facts. I got detailed on how far along I was into the project, and whether or not it would make more sense to bow out, or to find a way to finish it up. I sent some of the email communication and my own thoughts to my mentors and those I respected to get second opinions.

    Both of them were shocked, and told me that I had been WAY too kind for way too long, and if I wanted to grow my business, I needed to gain more confidence, and not allow myself to get so easily walked over. One told me to get out immediately, the other suggested a slightly more tactful approach. I took advice from both and crafted a very carefully written email, stating that the relationship needed to change immediately in order to get the project finished, and made some suggestions for what needed to happen in order to finish.
    TO my surprise, the client responded warmly… and we managed to get the project finished. After launch we never spoke another word, which is definitely a first! (a huge relief of course)
    My business has actually flourished massively since that project, as I got very REAL with myself about my rates, my process, and the type of people I need to work with to feel fulfilled! A huge huge learning experience. I don’t regret anything about the experience because it helped me take things to the next level… so in a weird way I”m grateful 😉

  8. I do service (spa) and dread when one person calls me. This client is never on time and rarely pays in full on day of service. (“I’ll owe you”). To be honest would likely hurt my reputation, even if I were tactful. This is a close community. I also like this person, just not the behavior as a client. (My fault: I put up with it for months because I thought that’s what one does in good service). I keep being “too full” and suggesting other people/places to accommodate him, but the client continues to call because he prefers how I do things.
    Do I keep being unavailable and hope to wear down this client’s persistence?
    Do I “rip the bandage” and say what is true but risk losing other clients to gossip: “I need to reserve my time for people who show up on time and who pay in full.”

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