The Secret Entrepreneur: Nightmare clients and the ‘F*ck off quote’
The Secret Entrepreneur reveals how dealing with loathsome clients can have an upside – even if ethically you step into ‘grey’ territory
Ever wondered what other successful entrepreneurs really think? Our Secret Entrepreneur is here to tell the full, unvarnished, truth about life as the CEO of a fast-growing business.
Each time our Secret Entrepreneur will lift the lid on the angst, frustrations, and realities of running a multi-million turnover company right here.
In their first column our Secret Entrepreneur shared how life running a business means losing your real friends and replacing them with a dysfunctional collection of people you work with or for, as well as your entrepreneurial peers.
Here, they share how they deal with clients they despise:
“Not every prospect is your ideal client. In fact, some are – at work at least – just nightmares. They think it’s their God given right to make your life hell. Worse, they think it’s actually an acceptable business tactic. They go out of their way to make every aspect of dealing with them difficult.
Most people would tell you to avoid them at all costs. Reality check time. The fact is, when building a business, there are times when you just have to suck it up and do the deal.
In the early days, it’s often just about cashflow. Money is money, and when you’re not overwhelmed with offers, you have to take what you can get. In the start-up stage, turning away work is fanciful.
It would be nice to think that things change when your business becomes more successful. The desperation for cash does, but then other factors come into play.
I’ve found that the grade-A nightmares often come with strings attached. The kind that make it very difficult to get them to go away, or to recommend that they talk to one of your competitors. The recommended-by-a-big-client kind of strings.
This is where a little discussed, but highly effective tactic comes into effect. I call it the f*ck-off quote.
The basic premise is to put in a quote to the prospective nightmare that’s so high they’ll either f*ck off, I mean go away gracefully – with everyone’s honour intact – or pay it and the extra cash makes it worth you taking the grief.
It’s underhand and not especially great for the soul, especially when they accept the quote (which usually means you pitched too low), but it works.
The trick here is to only use this technique if you really can live with it. It does happen, I’ve experienced this on several occasions, but provided you built the margin in, it can be lucrative. Very lucrative in fact. You may even find that after a while and some careful handling, they can become a valued long-term client. Even if not, at least you have the cash.”
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