Running a boutique consulting firm can feel like sailing the Drake Passage during a storm on a 30-foot sloop. Stomach-lurching ups and downs, and moments of panic interspersed with general exhilaration.
While most of your crew and passengers are helpful, if you spend enough time cruising the consulting seas, you’ll encounter at least a few individuals you wish you had left at the dock.
By and large, clients are great people, or at least tolerable. Plus, part of your consulting firm’s magic is being able to help less-than-perfect individuals and organizations achieve greater success.
However, some clients aren’t worth the trouble. Let the following folks charter some other consulting firm’s boat:
5 Consulting Clients to Steer Clear Of
Your consulting firm’s purpose is to help your clients fulfill their aspirations. Some clients, though, pursue patently unattainable goals that translate into unrealistic expectations of your consulting project.
Any client who will heap disappointment on you or ding your consulting firm’s reputation if your engagement doesn’t deliver on their wildest dreams should be left ashore.
Success will come easily for your consulting firm when you pursue reasonable clients with reasonable objectives.
The best consulting engagements operate as collaborative partnerships between your consulting firm and your clients. Consulting works poorly when the client expects your consulting firm to carry them the whole way, tackling the entire project, including implementation, without them.
Consulting isn’t something you do to your clients, it’s a process you undergo with them.
Yet, certain clients forget they bear responsibility for their results too—after all, the results are for their company, not yours.
Jettison any client who’s a dead weight and won’t contribute to their own success.
Choose clients who enthusiastically engage with your consulting firm and embrace joint responsibility for achieving success.
It’s not unheard of for clients to want the truth bent, outcomes changed for their own, personal gain, or support in what amounts to cheating.
Ethics can be a bit fuzzy sometimes and clients who step over the line usually feel justified in their actions. However, a passage through murky ethical waters puts your consulting firm and your conscience at risk. Quickly escort those types of prospects and clients off your consulting firm’s deck.
Stick with ethical clients and you’ll always feel more confident about your consulting practice.
Prospects who treat you or anyone on your team poorly before a consulting project starts, make terrible clients for your consulting firm.
Some bullies openly flaunt their heavy-handed approach; however, others mask their true nature behind senior executive charm.
If any prospect or client tries to shame you into an action, undermine you in an attempt to justify their own position, or verbally abuse or degrade you (or anyone on your team), heave them off the ship.
Your consulting firm will thrive when you only take on clients who respect you as a partner.
“Thou shalt work with any person” isn’t a consulting commandment.
There are people and personalities that just rub you the wrong way, for whatever reason. If your primary contact on the client side is That Person, and you can’t offload them to a crew mate, politely decline the engagement.
Collaborating with clients you like will make your consulting firm happier and more productive.
What other clients or prospects have you found to be not worth the revenue? Or, alternatively, who do you seek out as clients?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.