Sometimes in business, we find ourselves working with clients that just aren’t the right fit. Maybe they started off ok (read “sane”), but somewhere down the road they became a painful burden. I had a client like that before, and found myself sharing this wisdom with my design team: 

Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
— Matthew 7:6 (emphasis added)

Jesus said these words in the infamous sermon on the mount, and while he wasn’t there to give business advice, this is still very applicable to the marketplace. As skilled professional entrepreneurs who actually have a choice of whom we work with, we have to have the courage and self-respect not to give our valuable time and energy to clients that simply don’t deserve it. You can make money from other sources, but your time and energy are things you can’t get back. 

Clients who are more like pigs often take so much from us that we can’t give to the clients who really do deserve our pearls. So what do you do if you’ve been tossing your pearls before pigs? 

Address it with the client

If the frustration is arising from an issue that can be rectified, perhaps the client just needs some training in what is appropriate or acceptable behavior in a business relationship with you. This can be anything from managing rounds of revisions, creating realistic timelines or paying their bill on time. This also assumes that if you can fix these issues the client would then be a keeper (and there aren’t any additional reasons they are not a good fit).

Let the client go

But maybe the client just isn’t worth keeping, and you need to cut them loose. You don’t have to burn bridges or be rude, but cut cords sooner rather than later. I remember having a hard conversation before when a client was being abrasive over the phone with one of my team members. A big no-no! I had to get on a call with the client to let him know that we would not be accepting that kind of behavior and that I would be sending all of his files on a CD so that he could move on to another designer. This was also important for me to do as an employer. It told my team members that I valued them and would have their back. 

Protect your pearls

Regardless of what you do, value yourself and your business by protecting your pearls. Not everyone is worthy of working with you. Entrepreneurship is hard enough as it is. There is no need to make it harder by constantly lowering your standards and crushing your self-esteem by continuing to work with clients that are trampling your treasures under their feet, and might even turn and tear you to pieces on the inside. 

If you’d like some coaching on a problem you’re experiencing, schedule a free 15-minute call with me to get some candid and honest feedback. 

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