Navigating Toxic Clients: Reclaiming Joy in Your Business

Written By Donna-Marie  |  Customer Service 

If ever you've experienced the trouble that toxic clients can bring, you probably know how heartbreaking it can be. Truly, it can suck the energy and vibrancy out of you, or your team members. This in turn leaves you too exhausted to give your all to your other clients... your IDEAL clients. 

But, although you may be so depleted you may even consider closing your business, there is a way around this. You can manage these toxic clients so you avoid working with them in future, and reclaim the joy and passion for your business.
toxic clients

Hey there, amazing entrepreneur! Today, let's dive into a topic that's close to home for many of us - the world of less-than-stellar clients. You know the ones... high expectations, relentless demands and zero appreciation for the boundaries we've painstakingly set.

These toxic clients not only suck the joy out of our businesses but also manage to cast a shadow on our entire lives.

But fear not! We're about to unravel the secrets of taming these toxic clients or, if need be, gracefully letting them go. Because, my beautiful friend, your sanity and joy deserve to take centre stage in your entrepreneurial journey. Yes, we want to go above and beyond to help our clients. But not at the expense of our own well-being and ability to give our all to our other clients.

Recognising The Signs: Are They Toxic Clients?

First things first, let's identify the red flags. Toxic clients are those who seem impossible to please, demand the world, and have a knack for turning your work into a never-ending saga of revisions and complaints.

And sometimes it's not that they're horrible people, not at all. They may be lovely in many aspects. But they're just not a good match for you and your business. 

I've experienced clients like this in recent years. The thing is, I didn't think they were a good fit for my business when they first asked me to help them with their online businesses. I actually said I wasn't able to help them and referred them to someone who could. Twice!

But they were persistent and insisted they only wanted to work with me.

So... yep, I gave in.

And in both cases, the projects dragged on for months, rather than the 1-2 weeks of the original scope of each project.

Don't get me wrong, they were happy to pay and in fact, one offered to pay me a LOT more than I'd quoted. But money wasn't enough to make up for the extreme stress and anxiety it put me under. I won't go into more detail on the specifics, needless to say I should have trusted my gut.

If you find yourself stressed at the mere thought of dealing with a client, or potential client, it's time to take action.

Closing One Door To Open Another: Dropping A Toxic Client

Give the issue some thought and consider if this client is really your ideal client? And how long will you be working with them. That is, are you locked into an on-going contract? Is it a one-off job? And if it's a one-off job, how much longer will you be working on their project/service?

Is there a simple way you can end working for them? If so, it may be worthwhile.

I know what you may be thinking - how on earth can I drop a client? Well, let me channel my inner Alexander Graham Bell: "When one door closes, another one opens."

Trust me, if you bid farewell to a toxic client, the universe has a way of sending a more aligned one your way. It always happens.

Consider it a strategic move. More time opens up for marketing yourself, showcasing your skills, and letting your audience know you're ready for a new collaboration. If you've consistently delivered value, your tribe will be eager to jump on board.

After all, who wouldn't want to work with someone as amazing as you?

Taming The Beast: Can You Turn A Toxic Client Around?

Now, let's talk about taming the unruly client. If you're determined to salvage the relationship, it's time to grow some thick skin and reinforce those boundaries. And if you don't have any? Well, now's the perfect time to set them.

For instance, if you're a 24/7 email responder, stop it! As of right NOW!

Set clear business hours and communicate when your clients can expect a response. Your time is precious, and it's time they respect that. Identify other unrealistic expectations and create reasonable solutions. Your fellow business owners will likely appreciate your commitment to healthy boundaries.

I'm the queen of setting boundaries. This was something I began doing 20+ years ago, back in the 1990s. (Yes, showing my age here! And wisdom. 😉 ). However, I was terrible at enforcing those boundaries and spent way too many years being a people pleaser. In the end, I realised those boundaries were there for a reason and enforcing them is critical for maintaining long-term business success and sanity.

Reflect And Revise: Changing The Game With On-Boarding

If toxic clients seem to find their way to you more often than not, it's time for a little self-reflection.

Why do they choose you?

And more importantly, why do you accept them? 

Are they really your ideal clients?

Is your pricing sending the wrong signals?

Are you asking enough questions about their needs?

Reevaluate your business policies. Define your ideal client, ensure your pricing aligns with the value you provide, and establish a robust on-boarding process.

Remember, it's not just about them interviewing you; it's your chance to interview them. Use a contract to spell out expectations and boundaries. You're not just building a successful business; you're steering the ship.

Conclusion: You're In Charge Of Your Journey

As you navigate the waters of toxic clients, always remember, Lovely - you're in charge. Your business is a reflection of your values and you deserve clients who respect those values. Whether it's gracefully letting go or setting boundaries, prioritise your joy and sanity.

So here's to reclaiming the joy in your business, my beautiful friend! You've got this. 🌟

About the author, Donna-Marie

Donna-Marie is an award-winning Entrepreneur, Author, Online Mentor and Content Marketing Specialist who's been lifting up small business owners since 1998. She's got an incredible talent for showing business owners how to build their dream business and life, teaching them systems to boost profits and enjoy more freedom, all at the same time. Don't just go with the flow... create your business - and life - by design. 💕