How to identify a bad client — The Ultimate Guide

Call it quits if your client shows too many of these traits

Amando Abreu


“Three businesswomen talking at a white table” by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Ok, so, you land a new client, awesome! After communicating for a few days you sign the contract. Fast forward a few weeks, the entire scope of the work has changed, they cost you more than they paid, the stress keeps you up at night, and you simply cannot work with them.

Does this sound familiar?

First of all, let me clear up the title: there are no bad clients. Problems manifest in a relationship between the service provider and the client, a single party is hardly ever to blame.

Certain types of clients tend to attract certain types of providers that create awful relationships, and some service providers act in certain ways that make any client relationship very hard.

It’s important to get a feel for when this is happening and know whether to start at all, and when to stop. Cutting both of your losses after something not working out is not a problem.

“No deal is better than a bad deal”

This is for people offering services or products that solve complex and/or specific problems that your client cannot himself solve. If your client is at point A, your skills should help them get to point B. However, unless they are a perfect client, point B might not be where they truly want to be, and they might not be at point A, so you should feel comfortable helping them find point A, and suggesting a point C or D that better fits their goals, budget, and time constraints.

One thing to keep in mind: clients are not your friends, and you’re not theirs, it’s a purely conditional relationship that even comes with legally binding contracts. They may act friendly, but their goal is to get as much as possible from you for as cheap as possible, and your goal is to give your services for as much money as possible, quite conflicting. Things they say or do may sound friendly, but it’s all a game. This is no problem, you just need to learn to play the game, simple!

What if you could detect this on the first time you meet without fail? Well, this list aims to help with that. I compiled personal experiences and a lot of listicles found on the…