Yesterday morning I discovered Econsultancy’s The five clients you should avoid like the plague, which rings true to me.

Particularly this part, from the introduction:

One of the lessons learned through experience: profitability often has a lot more to do with avoiding the wrong clients than it does finding a never-ending stream of new clients.

Frankly, I don’t know that I’d go that far. But these lists of types are fun, and even though it’s been years since I’ve been doing this kind of consulting, I definitely recognize all five types. If you’ve survived in the expert business for any time at all, you’ll be able to spot these. See what you think:

  • The fisherman.
  • The mime artist. This one was a bit less obvious for me, but when you read this quote: “communication is a crucial part of any client relationship,” it’s very clear.
  • The deluded. That’s “the client who wants you to build a site that will combine the features of Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Digg, Napster and every other popular site ever built since 1998…”
  • The spouse. They “expect a little bit too much. You probably have some experience with these clients: they send emails for the sake of sending emails, like to phone you a few times a day just to see how things are going, and want you to meet frequently on-site because they ‘like’ interaction.” (Hey, we’re giving spouses a bad name here. If I were the author’s spouse I’d be mad. I’d rename this type the clinger, or something like that.)
  • The cheapskate.

This list reminds me of something I heard a couple of years ago, I forget where, that struck me as very wise. It came up in the context of professional expert businesses:

The customer might be always right, but the client isn’t.

(Tip of the hat to Duct Tape Marketing for this one.)

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Tim BerryTim Berry
Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.