Small Business Tip: Five Types of Clients to Avoid


Small Business Tip: Five Types of Clients to Avoid. In business, there are the clients we love and the ones we’d rather not deal with.

clients to avoid

Once you have been doing business for a while, you start to develop a 6th sense when it comes to prospects. In my business, the music industry, after so many years of doing this, there are certain people, I know to avoid right away. I want to share this information with you…

“The Waiver Client”

This is the client that wants you to jump through hoops, send them all your data and even ask you for propriety information before they spend their money to support you. NEVER give ANYONE your database. That’s the key to your business and if they have it, why do they need you? The clients that want you to PROVE yourself, especially after you are already established, are on some type of power hunt themselves. They don’t have the money or they can’t afford your services but if they can make you feel the least bit inadequate or brag about “having you on their team” it apparently makes them feel better about their inabilities.

They are not prepared to do business and they want everything for nothing and they will simply waste your time. It’s certainly OK to send the basic information but keep in mind they came to you for a reason. Someone told them about you or they have seen something themselves that lets them know that you can help them. If you went to them… well, you may have to deal with this situation but there is a 25% chance they will actually do business with you. I call them the “Wavering” client because they often disappear and pop up a few months later with the same bullshit and no business for you. Hit Next above or below for the next segment.

The “Work For Free” Client

This is the client that invites you to attend their events or their business and they want to meet you at Starbucks with his or her business partners to basically… pick your brain. Hey, if you are not going to pay me to use my services then at least pay me a consultant fee… right? They have no intention of financially supporting you but dangling the carrot will, in their minds, get them the answers they can’t seem to get from more savvy, less desperate business people. I’m not knocking it, I’ve been there myself… I’m just being honest.

What we think we are hiding is often BLATANTLY apparent and obvious and sometimes we ignore our instinct on these types because we need the business. Truth be told they are desperate too because they need the information. We will often give TOO much information and then we are left in the cold and they have just gotten a free education. First of all, if a client wants to pick your brain and they want you to meet them at Starbucks they are cheap. If you ever listen in to some of the business meetings or interviews that take place at Starbucks, they are often futile and ego-driven by one of the people. 

This is not to say some of the meetings are not successful but let’s be realistic if a client offered to take you to Starbucks and another offers to take you to dinner.. which one do YOU think is more serious?

“Hook me up, Give me a Discount on the Discount(ers)”

The danger of offering a discount is there are some people who want to take further advantage of the offer. They think “Hey if I can get it for 50% off why not 80% off. Truth be told, when we offer discounts we are often, let’s just say… “needy” but when someone tries to rip you off, you have to set your own boundaries. I have “friends” who I only hear from when they want me to run press releases on my popular industry blog for free.

The problem is most of the time the Press Releases are on washed up artists who have no relevance in today’s industry or it’s something totally unrelated. Truth be told, my “friends” who ask me to do this will get paid for me to run it but I’m hit twice below the belt. #1 my readers are wondering why I’m running something irrelevant and unrelated and the “flow” of the blog is interrupted… #2. I’m NOT getting paid to do it.

These people totally ignore how hard you work to establish your business as their concerns are only for themselves and paying their rent… that’s fine.. question is… who is going to pay yours?  I don’t reply to those requests anymore but if it’s something that you feel may help get your business rise to the next level by all means do it… JUST KNOW they will KEEP coming back for discounts or FREE work and once you give it to them, they will never see the true value in what you do.

“I Purchased one thing, Now Give me Something Else for Free(ers)”

Can you tell your landlord or mortgage company, “I paid the mortgage in March, now give me April for free?” HELL NO, they will laugh in your face. Clients must pay for all services rendered.  FREE is non-existent. NEVER and I mean NEVER give anything for free UNLESS it’s a major client and you give them one thing free per quarter, year etc.

“Let me use your services for free and see how it works then I will make my decision(ers)”

This should literally be a CRIME and if you are STUPID enough to do it YOU should be arrested. I am willing to guarantee you that even if they get a TON of business after you do it for them for free they will STILL either going to ask for more free time or tell you it didn’t work.

In all these situations there is simply one thing that you can say to SHUT THEM DOWN. Here is a million dollar piece of advice for FREE… Ask them during the FIRST conversation….”Do you have available budget…NOW?” Most of the people above will be taken aback by the question and say things like “I’m waiting on an approval” or “I’m getting my team together” or “I’m writing a proposal to get funding.” That’s your cue to tell them… “Well, give me a call back when you have a budget available and let’s talk then. Have a nice day! There is NOTHING wrong with that. Don’t waste your time dealing with these types and always value what you do.

Kevin Ross

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Kevin "KevRoss" Ross is a music and radio industry expert. He is a 20 -plus year entrepreneur with the leading most successful industry trade publication and site Radio Facts ( He has also published various books, magazines, performed marketing and promotions for major corporations and recording artists and he is on the advisory board of several industry organizations. This year Ross introduced his non profit organization LOMARI (Leaders of the Music and Recording Industry) to help teach young minority students how to market and manage their music and products.


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