Lisa Wight shares her top tips on how to avoid the clients you don’t want.

Being choosy with your clients is actually a good thing, as we explored in our previous blog. But what do you do when you feel stuck with a client you aren’t gelling with? This blog discusses how to avoid the clients you don’t want so you can be happier in your work day.

1. Be Canny With Referrals

It’s best practice to ask your clients for referrals. We know this. And while that is absolutely true, the caveat I would put in is that you only want to be asking your dream clients for referrals. I think it was Jim Rohn who said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” and that’s also true of your clients.

If you have an amazing client, who’s a good payer, who has the right work ethic, and has a really good energy with you, then the people they hang around with and the people that they are likely to introduce you to are probably going to be in a similar vein to them.

However, if you have a client who is a bad payer, who drains your energy, who is a lot of hard work and who doesn’t put the work in, they are probably going to be hanging around with people who are the average of them. That means any referral you get from a client like that is going to be a similar pain.

So it’s simple: do not ask for referrals from people who are not your dream client.

This isn’t just related to clients, but also to the people you network with. Energy is a really big thing for me. I find that if there are people in a networking group who are low energy and just don’t match with me, I’m not going to ask them for referrals, because I don’t want to be around those kinds of people. However, if I’m networking and there are some really energetic people – I mean go getters with a good work ethic – they’re the ones I’m going to be asking for referrals from. Who matches you?

2. Be Clear on Values

When you’re putting your marketing materials or sales pitch out there, be really clear on the values of your target market and then ask for them.

Following on from what I said in point one, I look out for the people who I think I can really help based on what I stand for and who I am. When I’m networking, I’ll try to spot someone who is usually really energetic, but they’ve kind of lost their spark a little recently. I might not be sure why, but they just don’t seem to be as energised as they used to be. That’s who I want to talk to. Because the reason that they’ve probably lost their spark is because the business is becoming too much for them. I know I can help them to resolve those issues so that they can get back to being energetic.

Be very clear in all your communication as to who you want to be working with, and ask for it.

3. Good Processes

The next thing you can do to avoid the wrong client is to have an onboarding process. That means when you do get a referral, you have a process that you take that person through, allowing you to identify early on whether they are a good fit for you, and vice versa.

Maybe you could give them a little exercise to do. You could see how well they follow instructions, or whether they have the time to be able to put things into practice. Or you could ask them to complete a survey. Not only will you get key information, but how quickly they get it back to you will also be revealing.

When you’ve spoken with them, don’t be afraid to test your own mood. Do you feel excited? Did they energise you? Or are you drained from just an initial conversation? How you’re feeling at that moment will probably only increase when you start working with them, so if it’s not a good experience for you, make sure you act on it.

If you get all three of these areas right, you should be on your way to working with your dream clients.

But what happens if you’re already working with someone and the relationship has soured? Or perhaps you didn’t have these things in place and you’ve got a couple of clients that are frustrating you, or you’re fearful they’ll damage your reputation. Here are my tips on how to let clients go.

Letting Clients Go

In an ideal world, if you wanted to step away from a client, you would have a very objective and clear conversation with that client and you’d tell them that it isn’t a right fit.

However, this is much easier said than done. I include myself in this when I say not everyone finds that sort of conversation simple. I don’t know whether it’s a British thing, but we fear it comes across as impolite or we might be afraid of potential conflict.

The good news is, there are other ways you can go about this.

1. Up Your Prices

Someone once said to me: if you’re not happy with your client, charge them an astronomical amount. That way, if they do go ahead then at least you’re getting a massive pay out of it. Take that as you will. But this isn’t as easy if you’re actually in a contract with someone.

2. Give Notice

My contracts always stated that I could give a month’s notice, and then either prices could change or we could end the relationship. So if I was in contract and I didn’t want to have that awkward conversation, I would just say to them something along the lines of, “I no longer have the time to service your contracts. I’m really sorry. But this is the month notice. What do we need to do in order to wrap things up over the next month and get you in a good position that you can find another business coach?” This way, you can kind of blame it on time. The only difficulty with this is that if they see you out networking and looking for new business, you’re sending out mixed messages.

3. Let Nature Take Its Course

What was your initial agreement with the client? Did you create an action plan to achieve a goal, and you had, say, six weeks of coaching sessions? Was it ever an infinite agreement? It might be that for good clients you try to upsell and work more with them. But for these clients you want to lose, you could naturally just let them slip away.

4. Honesty

If you are stuck in a contract, the challenge is how to get out of it without impacting your reputation. I hate to say it, but honesty is usually the best tactic here. While it may be a bit uncomfortable for my fellow Brits, doing this in an objective and fair way, and ensuring you wrap things up effectively so you’re not leaving them in trouble, should let you walk away without harming your reputation.

All of this, however, just underscores why – before you get into a contract with a client – it’s beneficial to have a very clear idea of who it is that you want to attract.


If you’re not familiar with hubbix, I’d just like to take a final moment to introduce it. It was created following my real life experience of working as a business coach and it’s already making the lives of our clients far easier. Just because you’re working with your ideal clients, it doesn’t mean you can’t improve your client sessions further. Why not find out more about hubbix and how it could transform your client sessions?