Why you should always say NO to a less than ideal client - Erin Armstrong

When you work for yourself, there can be a certain amount of pressure to say YES to any client that comes your way. (Even when you know deep down that you should say NO.)

There’s often a pervasive fear of not having a consistent income, and that pushes a lot of us to:

  •  Go with a client we may feel more than a little unexcited about.
  • Or choose to go forward with a client knowing we most likely won’t have the type of control in the relationship that is necessary.
  • Or take on work despite feeling uncomfortable about the project or client in some way.
  • Or agree to compensation seriously less than the worth we provide.

So, the first step in saying “NO” to a less than ideal client, is to learn about why it’s so important!

#1)  By saying YES to a less than ideal client, you are allowing them to take space that could be given to a client that lights you up!

Choose a client that matches your needs, respects your boundaries, pays you the rate you deserve, and (most importantly) is a project you feel comfortable and excited about.

What you don’t want to happen, is to take on a bad client and then have the perfect one come across your desk, but you don’t have time for them.

#2)  You’re lowering your energetic vibe by doing something you don’t want to do, just to match the clients wishes.

We’ve all been there. In fact, a few years ago I was contacted by a business man who was looking for a bookkeeper with the same skillset as mine. What he needed for the project was not exactly what I did at the time, but it was close enough. What really pushed me to take the project was the fact that he was so nice and he was in great need (I will spare you the details, but it had to do with helping his ailing mother whom I had actually met – not even kidding). So, I said “yes.” Two days went by, and as he continued to add other parts to the project, my thoughts were just a general “ugh.” And each day continued with more, “ugh.” Because I started this project on different footing than usual, I had nowhere near the amount of power that made feel comfortable (basically, I wasn’t operating from my own rules and boundaries). I put by foot down more than once, but it didn’t really do much.

After a few weeks, I told the client that because he hadn’t and didn’t want to respect certain boundaries, we needed to part ways. He was extremely taken back and offended. And… that remains one of the most awkward conversations I’ve ever had to-date, but I went home feeling so energetically HIGH, because I was free!

No client or amount of money is worth lowering your energetic (and entrepreneur) vibe.

#3)  It will cost you money down the road.

This is where a lot of freelancers and entrepreneurs have difficulty saying “NO.” Listen, I get it. You think that always saying yes to what comes across your plate is going to make you more money down the road because you’ll have more clients and projects…right? Well, not really.

Less than ideal clients are less than ideal for a reason (at least some reason). They might not be financially stable, or they might not value you or your services. Maybe their schedule doesn’t align with your availability, maybe they’re just plain rude, or maybe they’re cheap. You get the idea. Anyhow, it’s tempting to think “oh…I guess I’ll just take this one client on just this once so I can make rent/cover groceries/help pay the mortgage/etc.” because you feel you need more income.

HOWEVER, watch out! They will cost you money down the road.

They could constantly ring you up every day after the job is finished to get the answer to something you already gave them (or worse, something that wasn’t part of your job in the first place), which takes up time, money, and resources (losing $).

Or maybe they could accuse you of something completely outrageous and your lawyer needs to respond for you (losing $$).

Or even worse, they ask for a refund for your job, never mind the fact that you provided everything above and beyond what you originally agreed on (losing $$$).

I had to experience this myself in business three different times before I finally decided it was true: I was really losing money every time I took on a less than ideal client. 

I decided that saying yes was the wrong answer – and I’ve never looked back.

So, please learn this lesson quicker than I did: You will lose money E-V-E-R-Y time you take on a less than ideal client. (You’re welcome! :))

Erin Armstrong - Business Coach - Virtual CFO - Optin - Small Business Tax Deductions

Now, over to you!

What experiences have you had with saying yes or no to an unideal clients? How have you dealt with the present concern of income stability when saying no? Share your stories below!

<< Go Back


Please enter your email below -- then check your inbox!

Thank you for subscribing! Please check your email to confirm your subscription.


Please enter your email below 
and then check your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing! Please check your email to get your Checklist of the Top 73 Tax Deductions for Small Business Owners.


Please enter your email below--then check your inbox!

Thank you for subscribing! Please check your inbox for your email from erin@erinarmstrong.com.



Please enter your email below
and then check your inbox. 

Thank you for subscribing! Please check your email to confirm your subscription.