Dealing with Difficult Clients: An AffordableLaw Guide for Entrepreneurs and SMEs

As a business owner, you have probably dealt with your fair share of difficult clients. The ones who don’t value your work or don’t want to pay you what you deserve; the clients who badger you or change their minds about what they are asking you to do half a dozen times a day.

Some issues may be resolved simply by discussing your concerns and frustrations openly and honestly with your client, and this should always be your first step toward resolution. However, if your issue is a bit more serious or the client is not receptive to the discussion, you may need to find a new way to resolve your concerns.

A common issue that many business owners feel needs to be escalated beyond a conversation is when a client refuses to hold to the terms upon which you agreed prior to beginning the work they have hired you to do.

So, what should you do when you find yourself in a situation like this?

The secret is simple: ensure you have a well drafted contract to fall back on.

Without a signed contract outlining the terms of the working relationship, it’s only your word against your client’s. However, with a contract tailor-made to the specific services you offer, there is a legally-binding document holding both yourself and your client to what you agreed upon.

Here are a few tips which make dealing with difficult clients a breeze:

Be detailed! Is there a particular day on which you expect to be paid each week or each month? Do you have a cap on how many revisions you will allow? Are there specific office hours during which you will be available, as well as certain hours you will never be available? Adding as many details as possible decreases the likelihood of miscommunication or misunderstanding.

Set goals and expectations for yourself and your client. If you expect your client to answer emails within 2 business days or limit their communication with you to 3 emails per day, make sure you communicate that well. Asking your client for any specific goals or expectations they have for you helps to avoid future issues as well.

Include a way to let them go. Always give yourself and your client an “out”. Some relationships just aren’t meant to be – and that’s okay! Don’t let yourself or your client get resentful toward the other because you are trapped in a contract one (or maybe both) of you desperately want out of. Outlining a way for one or both parties to break off the working relationship is a great way to ensure you continue to enjoy working with each of your clients. Ensure there is a termination clause.

Do you have tailor-made contracts which will protect yourself and your business? If so, keep on crushing the business owner game!

If not, why not order a tailor-made contract here

Protect yourself and your business with a tried-and-true contract that holds both yourself and your client accountable based on the agreed upon terms here.

If you have any questions about contracts send us an email to askalawyer@affordablelaw.ng. You can learn more about legal documentation and other crucial legal matters in our Legal 101 eBook for Ambitious Entrepreneurs and SMEs.

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