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.)

Tim BerryTim Berry

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