The Early Signs of a Nightmare Client


The Early Signs of a Nightmare Client. (It's okay to say no to the wrong clients) #businesstips #clientredflags #businessowner #biztips


When starting a business you’re ready to work with every single client that comes your way BUT you will soon learn (if you haven’t already) that not every potential client is worthy of your time or services. A nightmare client can usually be described as someone that asks for extra work not included in the project, doesn’t listen, micro-manages, doesn’t meet deadlines, or avoids payment at all costs.

So let’s look at some early warning signs of a “nightmare client”.

They are vague. By vague I mean you ask them a few questions and they respond to one question with a very short answer that leaves you feeling a little confused about the scope of work. This typically means they are going to give you little to no direction on the project itself but become unsatisfied when the project doesn’t meet their expectations. However, this isn’t your fault as the service provider, it’s the client’s fault for not giving enough direction or detail about their expectations from the start.


Everything is “quick” or “simple”. When a potential customer/client uses these terms it means they don’t fully understand the scope of work that goes into a project, therefore will not respect your time or prices when it comes to asking for extra “little changes”.


They want to know if they can “get it any cheaper”. When a potential client asks if they can get your services/product any cheaper it shows they are not fully invested in their project. Therefore, aren’t willing to spend the amount of money it takes to make it happen.


They want everything ASAP. Of course most clients want to start a project as soon as possible but if they are wanting everything completed within an unreasonable amount of time, you do not want to push your limits trying to rush quality work.


Communication is slow. When a potential client is always putting off meetings or taking days to respond, that won’t improve once a project starts. If communication isn’t good a project may go on for months & never reach a satisfactory point.


They request samples of your “ideas” or designs before a project has officially started. This is wrong not only because they can steal your ideas but they are also asking you to work for free. If you have a portfolio there is absolutely no need for a request like this.


You don’t “vibe”. Now this can mean a lot of different things to different people BUT in many cases you want to get along with your client to a certain extent. This is because communication is key with any project & if you can’t carry on a conversation over the phone, you guys might not be a good fit. You want to have good communication not only so you can discuss things but understand their style and project expectations.


They promise future referrals and recommendations in exchange for a discount. Referrals are nice but they don’t pay the bills and there is no assurance these “referrals” are ever going to reach the right people.


Hopefully this will help some of you avoid nightmare situations & understand that it’s okay to say no to the wrong clients. Over time these red flags will become more apparent and easier to identify!

don’t feel bad for turning down the wrong clients

February 19, 2019

  1. Isa says:

    Thanks, Mackenzi for sharing this! I wish I had read this when I’ve established my business.
    I had (still have cause the project is not finished after 4 months) a nightmare of a client, that exactly fit in all the first 5 issue. Unfortunately, when you’re at the very early stage you are okay to accept almost everything but you soon realise the mistake.
    I’ve learnt the lesson now 🙂

  2. Great article! Recently had a client ask me if she is not important after a long back and forth. I told her: you were until you became the rudest client i’ve ever had. Lesson learnt. Future nightmare clients will be avoided!! 😉

    • Mackenzi Green says:

      Totally understand your frustration. I try to get through those rare situations in the most professional manner possible but sometimes it’s really hard!

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