How to avoid bad clients BEFORE they become bad clients

Bad clients. We can all agree…they suck. You might have just found a $100 bill in that purse you never use, discovered the perfect shade of red, but not too red, lipstick or fit into your long-anticipated, one-size-too-small little black dress. Doesn’t change the fact that bad clients still suck.

Ever gone mattress shopping?

Hard, soft, spring, memory foam, hybrids, pillow top, gel, air, latex, and the list goes on. A mind-numbing array of snooze-worthy choices…something, quite literally, for everyone. But, you have a certain type of mattress you love.

And so, like a sticky fingered kid at a bulk candy shop, you go to the mattress store to try out every one of them. Most are too soft or too hard. But then, just when it feels like you’ve reached the end of possibilities, you fall back into a heavenly cloud and swear you hear angels singing. You’ve found the one. Problem is, it’s like double the price you wanted to spend. So you settle for another one. It’s softer than you like, but you’ll make it work.

You get it home and that night you climb under the sheets, eager to fall into blissful sleep. Instead you toss and turn, trying to find the right position to make it feel more comfortable. Nothing works. It’s not the right fit. It’ll never be the right fit.

The moral of the story? You are the mattress.

You cannot change who you are. Nor should you. Some clients will appreciate you, others will not – they’ll find you too soft or too hard, too stuffy or too friendly, too detailed or too loosey-goosey, too this or too that.

Here’s the problem with bad fit clients. They have expectations that you can’t meet, they cost you time and money and they make you want to crawl back in bed and hide your head under the covers. Not one of those things is going to help you build the business of your dreams. Not. A. One.

When it comes to finding the right clients I’m like a finicky toddler at lunchtime. I want the red cup with the polka dots on it. Not the green cup or the yucky black one. I want the red. And nothing is going to sway me. You can try to tempt me with promises or something better, but I won’t settle for anything else. Because there’s nothing in the world more important to me or my business.

Spending my days working with bad fit clients is the equivalent of wanting to create beautiful music and using my head and a wall as my instruments.

Right-o. So, we can all agree we want to rid our business of bad fit clients. Easy enough. Just put on a Donald Trump hair piece, purse your lips and say, “You’re fired!”

The hard part is making sure you don’t work with bad clients in the first place.


When you work with clients who don’t get the value you provide and don’t appreciate your work, you create your own detraction engine. A band of miffed clients who’ll tell everyone they know how bad your business is.

So, let’s start here.

We’ve all worked with a Detractor. What does yours look like? When you think of those clients who thought they owned you and your time, were constantly asking for more than you agreed, you could never make happy, you hated working with…what were their common traits?



These, my friends, are your ideal fit customers. The kind that make you giddy, you smile at the thought of them, they bring out your best work.

What? Love what you do and produce your best work, you say? Yep. They are the pot of gold in your business rainbow.

Just as you did with your Detractors, think about the common traits of your business’s Energizers.



As I mentioned, I’m a stickler for finding the right-fit clients. In my Anti-Hustle business, I only take on 2-4 clients any given year, so I want to make sure I pick well.

What’s my secret?

I ask the right questions.

I’ve created a very carefully curated list of 5 qualifying questions that I ask any potential client to determine if they’re likely to be a detractor or an energizer.

Your task: If you were to ask a potential prospect 3-5 questions to qualify whether they’re an energizer or detractor, what would they be?

Here are some thought starters to help you create your questions:

1. One of my questions is “Who would I, as your consultant, be working with on your end to do (insert the project or goal here)?” I know I work best with businesses where I deal directly with the big cheese. So, if they want to pair me with a Marketing Co-ordinator I know it’s not the business for me. Maybe one of your questions would be centred around who you’ll be working with.

2. Does your prospect need to have a certain budget? Building a question around budget can not only tell you whether your prospect can afford you. It can also give you a window into whether they’ve even created a budget in the first place.

3. Is there a certain business culture that works best for you? Maybe you work best with buttoned-up types or maybe you prefer working with creative-types. Asking about the culture can help you understand what they might be like working with.

4. Are there certain expectations that you work well with or don’t work well with? For example, if you’re a Mom and you need to turn off your business in the evenings and weekends. And if you need someone understanding that sometimes kids get sick and they’re your priority. Find a question that’ll help you understand what the prospect’s views are on your accessibility.

5. What is their experience working with someone like you? Perhaps many of the detractors on your list had never worked with someone like you before so they’re expectations were totally out of whack. If that’s the case, ask this outright as one of your questions: “Have you worked with a (insert your job) before?”

6. Do they have certain common goals / dreams? When you look at your energizers do they have similar business objectives? If so, seek out other prospects who share these.



If you want to build a business that isn’t about perpetual hustle, one of the first places to start is having the right customers. Because there’s nothing that’ll make you work harder and sweat more than a client that you just can’t make happy.

So, the key is to understand your Energizers, spot your Detractors and create 3-5 qualification questions that’ll help you uncover just who you’re dealing with.

If you want to learn exactly how to identify your business’s energizers, I share this and other nuggets to transform your business in my Anti-Hustle Guide. You can grab your copy in the pink box below!