What I Have Learned About Clients and Myself

keep-learningThis is going to be a very honest post, so be prepared.

I started my own business in 2005 and anytime you start a business your goal is to get clients and bring money in. You have to justify working for yourself, right? Making money is important. So in the beginning of a business you take any client, because a client is a client. I think that this part of your business life is where you pay your dues (and there is so much to learn from it).

When I first started I was very happy because I felt as though I was accomplishing something. Clients and their unique traits didn’t bother me because I was thankful for them. I just rolled with it and made it work and enjoyed it. However, this changed.

Growth and Experience

In the SEO, social, online marketing and web development industries you learn a lot by doing. As time goes on you grow and your experiences make you stronger in your position. I believe that this growth process increases your self-esteem and you truly start to appreciate your own knowledge and skill level.

I also believe that this increase in knowledge and skill level changes a person.  People begin to feel as though they deserve some respect for the skillset they offer and this why some clients begin to become an emotional drag for many.

Clients

There are always clients that are very positive and thrilled with the work you provide. They appreciate it and value the results that you bring. Then there are those that question everything you do, complain and find fault in everything. There are also others that have baggage that exhaust those that are providing services for them.

Some examples of baggage:

  • Ego
  • Narcissism
  • Team members with bad attitudes
  • Flat out wackiness
  • A love of drama

There are also clients that do not provide what you need to get a job done right and then come back and complain about things not being on time and blame you for it.

You Have Control

Dealing with clients isn’t always easy, but you truly do have control of your clients. What I mean by this is that if the client is making your life difficult, if they stress you out too much or if they diminish your life in anyway you don’t have to work with them!

Yeah! You can fire them. Sometimes the money isn’t worth the emotional upheaval, which causes ripples throughout your life and your family’s life.

I learned that my emotional well-being was the most important thing.  I can’t be a good wife, mother or consultant to my clients if I am overly stressed and unhappy. Believe it or not, sometimes less money is more! Money doesn’t bring you happiness.

Create Work Goals Based on Your Happiness and Well-Being

happiness-goalsA friend and colleague pointed out to me one day that I was never happy and that certain clients seemed to make me miserable. I also noticed that I had endured a repeat of really stressful clients. I had to ask myself why all this was happening and the truth was it was my fault. Here are a few reasons why and a few goals I made.

1). I was unhappy because, due to a low self-esteem, I let people talk and behave in ways that were disrespectful to me and I didn’t say anything back. I just endured.  This had to change (and it did!).

So goal #1 became – If I am disrespected I will address it. If things don’t change, fire the client.

2). I was taking on clients based on the amount of money I could make or the potential feather in my cap sort of thing. This was unwise. Granted we all have to make money, but sometimes you spend so much time dealing with the problems of the client that when you tabulate what you are making per hour or project you are actually losing money (and you are unhappy too).

Goal #2 – Choose only clients that I will enjoy working with

(This will take some time for a business, but just remember it is a goal. You don’t want to starve while waiting for the perfect client.)

3). I wasn’t paying attention to the behaviors shown in the initial contact. What I mean is someone would contact me via phone or contact form and I would respond as soon as possible. What I found is that this was stupid for several reasons. Sometimes responding right away sets a precedent; can you always respond quickly?

Anytime someone contacts you it is important to evaluate their behavior.

What did they sound like in phone messages? Where they demanding?

One technique I use is to not call back immediately. To be honest most of the time I don’t have time to, but by not responding right away I can rule out those folks that are going to be unrealistic and demanding clients. Some people that have never spoken to me call for services and when they don’t receive a call back in an hour they call again. Then they email to say they have called twice with no reply and then they call again – all in a 24 hour period. #WARNING #RUN

Email contacts can be the same way. I recently had an email where a man stated, “I will be sitting down with someone from your company early next week. Contact me for a date.” Umm, no. What kind of client do you think this fellow would have been?

Goal #3 – Evaluate all communications before considering contacting.

(I also recommend you Google their name and their company before responding. Sometimes you will be shocked at what you find.)

I could go on and on, but I think you get my point. You need to look at what is making you unhappy then create goals that will make your work life a better one. Stress is not healthy and it tends to get pushed on to others, like employees or loved ones. Most importantly, it is bad for you.

There will always be stress, but your work should be at least 80% positive for you.

Conclusion

I have learned a lot over the years and I continue to learn. I think the most important thing I have learned is to respect myself for the knowledge and skills that I provide. Once you truly appreciate what you have to offer things seem to fall into place.

I think the point I want to get across is that you do have some control of your happiness. Make a healthy and happy work environment a priority and you will avoid being miserable.

 

Image credits: Shutterstock Dirk Ercken and  jurie

About Melissa Fach

AuthorityLabs Community Jedi - Melissa Fach is the owner of SEOAware, LLC that specializes in consulting and training businesses. She is also the Community Jedi at AuthorityLabs, an associate on the Community Team at Moz, a past Editor of Search Engine Journal and a big cat volunteer. You can find her on Twitter @SEOAware.

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3 Comments

Anthony Pensabene

hey Melissa,

Theoretically, what would you think about a pivot away from a central job (to stand your ground on charging for your services), taking a second job (maybe out of the industry) due to the fact that you need to make an income in the immediate interval? It’s difficult to stay firm when you have bills coming in, yet I do agree with not being taken advantage of and serving as an example for others in similar positions.

Melissa Fach

Anthony, I think you have to pay your bills no matter what. I worked exclusively with clients for a long time and it was good, but I got tired of it. The reason I took the job at SEJ was I needed a break from clients. It was a good year for me. As you know I am now an associate at Moz and do work for Authority Labs, Copypress and I do work for several industry folks, plus have clients. I enjoy the diversity of different work and I have found that this not only makes me happier, but also pays the bills.

When you rely on clients exclusively for income it can be scary. There are waves of work and at times you have a complete dry spell. I think having back up work is a good thing.

ronell smith

Melissa,

Thanks for sharing your story. I can relate entirely. I spend my days writing content and consulting (e.g., PR, advertising, branding) to small and midsize businesses. I’m fortunate in that I am in a position to pick the clients I want and block those I do not.

My chief frustration is that, even with all of the great information available today, most small and midsize businesses aren’t able to access it, in large part because of a lack of time.
RS

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