We learn who will make a great client for our business by learning from the bad experiences.
5 years ago I had my last client from hell. I was offering web development services at the time and this client was so bad that when we parted ways, I quit web development and started Content Boot Camp.
It was a blessing in many ways. Content Boot Camp was a great program that ran for 4 years and helped a lot of people.
But back to this client– what really took me by surprise is that before we worked together, I had spoken on stages with this person, and been interviewed by her on a podcast where she really hyped me up and spoke highly of me and my expertise.
But when we actually started working together, she fought me at every turn, right from the beginning.
She fought all of my recommendations
She dragged her feet signing off on deliverables.
When we finally launched the website, she contacted us 2 days later and asked us to take it down and then disappeared for 6 weeks even though we were still contracted to create her email marketing system.
When she reappeared, we scheduled a meeting in-person, I thought to talk about the final phase of the project, setting up her marketing system.
She showed up to our meeting with a white woman who I quickly realized had been hired to replace me. This woman grilled me about project deliverables and criticized things about the website that she clearly had no knowledge of.
Finally I turned to the client and said, “What is really going on here?”
And then the truth came out of her:
“Why did you tell me I could get this cheaper? It’s not that hard to push buttons in Active Campaign.”
What really made this burn is that this person’s stated mission was about helping women, people of color, and LGBTQAI founders get capital for their business.
And yet she couldn’t trust a Black woman to help with her website and marketing.
I ended the contract early and quit doing done-for-you work altogether.
Ironically, Content Boot Camp ended up reviving the done-for-you side of my business.
As people implemented what I was coaching them on and started getting results, they realized their technology was holding them back from experiencing the full benefits of what I was teaching.
Coming back to done-for-you with the foundation of trust built from a coaching relationship was a whole other ballgame and allowed us to work faster and get better results.
I named that offer 'InSourced' because even if we are contracting, when we work with a client, we consider ourselves part of your team.
Like any bad relationship, bad fit clients teach you what red flags to look out for and also what makes someone an awesome client.
As we’ve developed our new CRM to Sales offer and put done-for-you agency work front and center in the business again, I’ve realized that what makes an ideal client for us is about more than just having a certain revenue level or number of years in business.
Working with entrepreneurs and companies with compatible values is a must for being able to do our best work. That means that at a minimum you agree:
- Black Lives Matter
- Trans Lives Matter
- Love is Love
- Women should control their own bodies
- Patriarchy & white supremacy are real and should be fought at every opportunity (including in business).
And these values are reflected in the way you do business both internally and with external vendors and contractors.
We cannot do our best work and strategic thinking if we are stressed out about being disrespected, gaslit and treated poorly.
I’ll be sharing more about the amazing clients we’ve worked with since this experience and what makes the relationships and the work so rewarding.
But I had to start here for two reasons:
First - my fellow Black women entrepreneurs, if you’ve had a similar experience–where people gave you great respect in public and then undermined you at every turn inside the client relationship– know that you’re not imagining it and you are not alone. Check out episode 10 of the podcast - Doing Business While Black for more on this.
Even though this Harvard Business Review article is about Black women in the workplace, it mirrors many of the same issues dealt with by Black women entrepreneurs.
Second- if you’re thinking you might want to work with us someday, now you have more information to know whether you’re ready to work with us on a heart and values level. If you’re nodding along or better yet, screaming “YES!” as you read this and you’re ready for help with your marketing, sales, or onboarding automation, apply to work with us here.