First of all, let me say I’m sorry.

If you’ve made it to this post, it’s probably safe to assume, you’re going through it right now. 

I can definitely relate to how stressed out, overwhelmed (and maybe a little lost) you’re feeling …because no one wants to fire a client. 

But you also don’t want to feel all those negative emotions that go along with having a client you know deep down probably needs to be fired. 

I think every business owner has been here at one time or another.  

Obviously, we all wish we could just work with perfect clients. 

The ones who hire you for your expertise so they value your work, respect the deadlines and boundaries established in your written contract and pay your invoices on time.  

BUT if you find yourself working with a less-than-stellar client…here are 6 red flags to help you identify if it’s time to fire them. 

**Real quick before we jump in: 

Everything I share is legal education and information. It’s not business, financial, or legal advice, and it doesn’t create an attorney-client relationship between us. 

6 reasons it may be time to fire a client

  1. They won’t sign your contract

 This is kind of a biggie for obvious reasons. 

If a client won’t sign your contract (and I don’t mean because they asked for a couple of revisions first – that’s normal), it’s likely because they have no intention of honoring your clauses, anyway. 

And because your contract should be signed before you ever start working with someone, this is also the least complicated time to fire a client. 

  1. They won’t pay a deposit upfront.

People love deals, so it’s inevitable you’ll run into the odd client who wants to negotiate prices.  

And while that’s not ideal, it may not be a dealbreaker for you unless they also refuse to pay a deposit before you start.  

If a client insists on paying in full at the end of your project or time together, it’s a red flag that something is off. You’re better off parting ways before you pour your most precious resource – time – into your services for them. 

  1. They ignore your questions.

You’ve made it past the first two hurdles – the contract is signed and the deposit is paid, but now your client has gone radio silent. 

If you can’t get answers you need to move forward in your work together, you can’t do the work. 

A slight delay in response isn’t the end of the world (your client is busy running their business, too), but if your follow-ups aren’t being acknowledged, it may be time to move on. 

  1. They don’t respect your boundaries.

It can be really tough to set firm boundaries as a business owner, so kudos to you if you’ve managed to do that. 

But setting boundaries will only get you so far if you’re working with a client who insists on ignoring them. 

Texting you at all hours of the night or constantly requesting a 5 pm Friday meeting when your contract clearly states you don’t work Fridays shows a serious lack of respect – and it’s kind of hard to work with someone like that. 

  1. They aren’t being honest with their own clients.

We often learn a lot about the people we work with: their values, ethics, beliefs, and so on. 

So if you see someone doing things that don’t align with your values and beliefs and feel like they’re misrepresenting themselves to their own clients, you don’t have to stick around and be part of their dishonest or shady business practices. 

You have your own reputation to consider, right? 

  1. It just doesn’t “feel” right.

Yeah. It can truly be that simple. 

You have instincts for a reason, so even if you can’t pinpoint exactly what’s wrong, it doesn’t mean you should ignore them. 

Sometimes you can’t see what’s going on – but you can feel it. 

The most important thing, regardless of what red flag (or flags) you’re dealing with? 

Ensuring that you comply with the termination provision of your client agreement.

And if you don’t have one yet? Your first step is to get that in place. 


Learning to walk away 

Listen, leaving money on the table isn’t easy. 

And I know it’s not always possible, depending on your current financial situation. 

But there’s so much truth in that old adage “peace of mind is priceless.” 

Learning to walk away is as much about learning to value your own worth as it is about…walking away. 

And in my experience, when you do this, you’re not actually closing a door to someone who doesn’t value you, you’re opening it for someone who does. 


Grab the client agreement for your business in the legal shop. 

And if you’re ready to learn even more about protecting your business, join the list of exclusive listeners of the Uncomplicating Trademarks podcast. 

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