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Small Business
Resource Center > Article
Identifying and Eliminating Toxic Clients
15 Nov 10 Posted by: Zipporah Porton
in Running Your Own Business
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The main goal when starting a new business opportunity is to follow every lead and make the most of any potential client.  However, what happens when that client you tried so hard to acquire becomes too difficult to handle?

It is hard to get past the notion that every client means money in the bank, especially when you’re running a small, home-based business.  However, if the client is sucking up all of your time and energy, it might be time to move on. Take a look at your current client list and see if you can pinpoint which ones might be toxic, and then cut them loose.

What is a Toxic Client?

A toxic client is poison to businesses large and small.  Generally speaking, a client becomes toxic when the bad outweighs the good.  The big guys have more manpower to deal with these fussy clients, but if it’s just you running your at-home business on your own, you have better things to deal with.  Here are some indications that your business lead has ended up NOT being worth the effort:

  1. They want your attention all the time.  Some clients are needier than others, and there is nothing wrong with that.  However, each and every client has to understand that you are a small business opportunity, and that you can only do so much on your own.  If all of your other clients are perfectly satisfied with the amount of attention they receive, then there is no need to hire extra staff to appease one overly whiney client.

  2. They always want a discount.  Many small businesses are happy to give reliable clients a discount on products and services as a “thank you” for their continued devotion.  When clients start to demand discounts or ask for ridiculous rates, they’re no longer worth your time.

  3. They won’t refer you to anyone.  Some clients sing your praises to your face, but refuse to give your name to others that could utilize your business opportunity.  You shouldn’t suffer because your client doesn’t want to share.

  4. The client is just plain rude.  There is no need for anyone to be rude in a professional setting – period.  It’s one thing if you’ve made a horrible mistake, but any good business owner will fess up and apologize immediately, and the client should respond accordingly.  And if you have clients that are rude on the phone or in person for absolutely no reason, then get rid of them; you don’t need abuse.

There are many more ways that a client can be toxic to your business opportunity, but the four above are easy to spot.  Overall, you have to weigh the pros and the cons of what the client brings.  If the client is nasty to everyone but spends a lot of money and has great contacts, then maybe you can overlook one flaw.  However, if the client is draining your energy and ruining your mood so much that it’s affecting your small business as a whole, then it is not worth the pain for a little extra income.  There will always be new business leads and new clients around the corner, so don’t fear that your toxic client can never be replaced.

As for how to eliminate the toxins, it depends on the client.  One solution is to let the client know that your business is simply making cuts at the moment to refocus.  Or, you can honestly explain why you can no longer work with them, and perhaps this will get the client to make a change and save the working relationship.  Overall, just be careful not to burn any bridges, because you never know when you could use that client one day, and you also have a reputation to protect.

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