Fire Clients Who Don’t Value Your Skills and Expertise

personal freedom

Have you ever worked with a client (or worked for someone) who doesn’t value what you bring to the table?

Most of the time, these people give great lip service in trying to sell the work/company, but when you get onboard, that’s when all hell breaks loose.

I did.


As what some of you might know, I got fired from my last corporate job. The BS reason my boss gave to me is that I “didn’t meet management’s targets.” But the reason behind it, I’ll leave that up to you.

But here’s a fact: The results I brought in during my short time there exceeded the results of the previous 3 people in that same role for the same metrics.

I can’t quite remember the exact numbers now, but when I did the math before, the KPIs were 4x than the combined results of the last 3 people who were in that role.

I stayed in the role for ~3 months. The last 3 people who were in that previous role had it cumulatively for around 1.5 years.

But I digress.

History Repeats Itself

A few years after, I found myself in a similar situation.

I had a client who doesn’t seem to know how to look in the mirror.

Everything bad that happens is somehow always because of the people around my client, i.e. other consultants/contractors.

It was never my client’s fault.

This client never listens. Don’t know how to answer.

Shuts you down when you raise concerns. Answers a simple yes-no question with a 25 minute story, that by the end of it, you either don’t want to ask anymore or simply just forgot what the original question was all about.

At this point, you already know that this is a bad client.

There are lots of red flags.

But I’ve got bills to pay.

Red Flags to Watch Out For

No Respect for Other People’s Time

This client wants you to stick to a budgeted number of hours (i.e. 10 hours), but wants you on team meetings every single day.

Each meeting lasts 5 hours.

During each team meeting that happens over Skype, you share your screen as the client tells you what to do while everyone watches.

Imagine that scenario.

You’re on a screen-share call with 5 other people. Your desktop is open for everyone to see. The client asks you to open this file. Edit this sentence. Adjust the font. Etc.

What if you’re one of the other people on the call?

Is that something you need to “see” step-by-step? Is that something you’d enjoy being part of?

Doesn’t Value You as a Person

During this meeting, the client just talks and talks and talks about everything EXCEPT the tasks that you need do.

Only the person who’s sharing the screen gets to do any sort of work during this meeting.

After some time, maybe around 45 minutes, the conversation shifts to updates on this other project.

Since there were no discussions on who does what by when, you’d have to ask how to move things forward.

But, when you ask to clarify the tasks, the client says, “I don’t have the time to answer all your questions. You ask too many questions. Just do this and let’s get on another call tomorrow.”

Waste of Everyone’s Time

It’s no wonder that a single webinar presentation has taken 4 months (and counting) to launch. Everyone gets on a Skype call, the client goes through slide 1, tells a 15-minute story, then goes back to slide 1 to decide on a title.

Then instead of going to slide 2, skips over to slide 53 because something came to mind.

Then, during that 20-minute soliloquy, the client wants to look up something on Google, so the client instructs the person sharing the screen to Google “lorem ipsum.”

The client then proceeds to share more stories about this image. 85 minutes in the call, we go back to slide 2.

Take note that the client insists on everyone to be on the call.

So that’s 5-6 people just watching the screen.

Oh, and since I was on a different time zone, here’s my schedule.

I wake up at 2am each day because that’s the time the client works.

Then, you’d find out that a meeting that’s supposed to be at 3am won’t take place until 7am.

No advanced warnings.

Just my client’s whims.

This client doesn’t respect us (employees and contractors) and everything we bring to the table. This client doesn’t respect our time.

So, for my sanity’s sake.

I fired my client.

How to Fire Your Client and Stop Working for People Who Doesn’t Respect You

Firing your client is never easy, especially if you really need the money.

But if you want to avoid these kinds of clients, be prepared to do the more work upfront.

Here’s what I learned over the years and something I am currently doing so I avoid getting in this situation again.

1. Have 6 months of cash in your bank

This isn’t usually discussed in the consulting/freelancing world, but it’s of grave importance.

If you want to avoid getting clients who aren’t a right fit for you but is willing to pay you something, you better have some sort of backup plan.

In this case, it’s this 6-month’s worth of cash.

Yes, cash.

Not the extra space in your credit cards.

Begin by listing down your essentials.

Those bills that need to be paid monthly. Not your nice-to-have’s. Not your lifestyle needs.

These are the fixed expenses that you can’t get out of in the short-run.

  1. Phone, internet, utilities
  2. Food or grocery budget
  3. Rent

Then think of ways to cut back on some expenses.

For example, instead of buying a Starbucks drink every morning, you can just buy a bag of beans and brew your coffee yourself. For the price of 3 Frappuccinos, you can get yourself a whole bag that can last you a week or two.

Once you have this list, multiply that by six.

Don’t forget to account for annual expenses. For example, in my case, that’s my web hosting and domain name registrations.

That’s your target to have in your bank account as cash.

Not credit. Cash.

That way, when times get rough, you can just dip into this while searching for the right client, instead of compromising.

2. Invest in yourself

One thing I recently applied to my life is that anything that involves my health or continuing education, I just go for it.

I don’t go crazy here. But it’s really very strategic if you think about it.

If you’re a programmer, the more you learn about programming, the trends or new techniques or approach, etc., the better your services will be.

If you’re a consultant like me, I stay on top of trends and do in-depth trainings on certain software or tools.

When it comes to health, you don’t have sick leaves. When you’re sick and don’t work, you don’t get paid.

So, what do you do?

Exercise. Drink vitamins. Eat healthy.

Don’t skimp out on this because you’ll suffer in the long run.

I’ve always had a back problem.

And in the last 2 years, it has moved up my neck/shoulders.

I invested in memory pillows and computer stands and back support. I’m now saving up for a better bed that can support my back.

All these are investments in myself because if I am not healthy, if I don’t get a good night’s rest, if I don’t wake up feeling refreshed, my work suffers.

And so does my income.

3. List down your client deal-breakers

Here comes the fun part.

If you’ve been consulting/freelancing for a while, you’ve certainly had your share of great clients and bad clients.

For this purpose, list down what you hated about your worst clients. They go into your deal-breaker lists. That way, when you speak with a potential client and it triggers a couple of these items in your list, you know you have to be extra vigilant.

Of course, that doesn’t mean if they do those things in your deal-breakers you shouldn’t take them as a client.

In most cases, yes, you shouldn’t.

Start thinking about what makes you hated working with them.

  1. Do they always pay late?
  2. Do they haggle your price?
  3. Do they implement your recommendations?
  4. Do they respect your time?
  5. Do they come to meetings prepared?

Once you have this list, you use it as a reference when you speak with a potential client. Then, depending on some other subjective factors, you can decide if you want to pursue this or not.

One thing to remember: when you talk about doing business with a potential client, you are in no means obliged to take them on.

Even after sending in your proposal.

It’s like a job interview. As an applicant, you still have the final to whether or not you want to work at that company. Don’t think that if you go to the interview, you have no choice but to work there.

Remember, you need to get a job offer first.

And even if you do, you can decide not to accept it.

Last February, before the world came to a stop, I applied this principle. Even after spending time getting to know a potential client’s business, researching and crafting a proposal, the potential client went on and triggered a bunch of things on my deal breakers list.

In the end, I didn’t pursue the relationship.

The reason is I followed the same advice I shared above.

  • I saved up enough money for the next few month’s expenses.
  • I have current clients who value my time and what I bring to the table

In short, I wasn’t desperate.

Which brings us to the next step…

4. Follow-through your plan

If you’ve done your deal-breaker list, you can proceed with listing traits of your best clients.

But the hardest is sticking with this plan.

If you followed my first recommendation, then you shouldn’t have to worry about this. The problem is that most consultants/freelancers live in cycles.

Good times and bad times.

This is because they don’t have a strategy in place to keep their funnel filled with opportunities (point number 5 below).

This is probably the biggest reason why consultants/freelancers (me included) take on clients even if we know that they’ll turn out to be a problematic client.

They triggered every item in your deal-breaker list, yet you still take them because they are wiling to pay and we need the money.

My recommendation is put up with it until you get to save up for your 6 months cash.

I did this for the next 8 months after firing this client (this was back in 2018). So, only until mid-2019 did I have enough cash in my bank to follow through.

Looking back, all I can say is that it’s worth it.

5. Keep your top-of-funnel filled

As consultants/freelancers, we often don’t take time to step back and look at how our industry work.

At the beginning, we don’t have any money.

So, this forces us to reach out, network, and do some “business development.”

Once we get a client and cash starts coming in, we shift focus to the current projects. After the project finishes, we go back to having no money, so we start prospecting again.

If you really want to get out of this vicious cycle, you don’t stop prospecting. Allot time to do it every week.

Or an even better solution is you automate this stuff for you.

Depending on your industry, this differs.

But I suggest listing down your activities on how you get prospects and leads, then think of ways to automate that.

For example, in my case, I do cold emails and inbound marketing.

For my cold emails, I use a CRM that has all my responses and follow-ups. After finding the right person to send to, I enroll them in that sequence. If they don’t reply, the followup email get sent.

If they reply, the sequence stops. This is usually where one-to-one conversation happens.

For inbound marketing, I continuously publish articles here.

Now, I’ve created a workflow for myself to distribute this content even further. After publishing on my website, I publish on Medium a week after, then on LinkedIn the week after that.

Then, my email marketing software automatically sends an email blast to my subscribers depending on the frequency they choose.

I have multiple lead capture forms all over my site.

Once in, they get enrolled in certain lead nurturing sequences. That way, I don’t think about “selling” to them manually. Everything is done automatically.

I then improve and update the sequences after every quarter. This makes sure I only use relevant content in my emails.

6. Deliver results, get out quick

Sometimes, even after all the screening, we still end up with a bad client.

What do you do in this case?

Get the smallest possible win or positive outcome then get out quick.

As much as I’d like to say this is what I did, it’s not exactly what happened with the client I was talking about.

Because the client disappeared for a few months, that was my way out.

After continuous followups for more than a month, there were no replies and/or decisions on proceeding with the next step.

What about you? Do you have a client (or a boss) that you’d like to fire or get out of? Did this happen to you before?

Let me know in the comments below.

Results of My 30-Day Challenge: Publishing One Article A Day

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Today marks the last day of the 30-day challenge I took for myself. My goal was to publish an article a day—a simple yet very challenging task.

As I reviewed my bullet journal, I complained at least 3x in the first two weeks.

I was running out of stuff to write about. I also find that it was taking me quite a while to finish the final article as it involves me taking screenshots and making sure everything flows smoothly.

But by the 3rd week I was getting into a rhythm.

Writing seems to be a little bit easier. But time is still my enemy. It takes me between 1-4 hours to finalize an article, depending on how in-depth it is.

By the fourth week, i’ve started looking forward to my new routine. What I did, or tried to do most of the time, is wake up earlier than usual. Nothing too crazy like 5:30 am or whatever “billionaire” routines that you read on the internet. Just maybe 30 minutes earlier.

Then, this is something I noticed that helped a lot, I dont look at my phone or any notifications that appeared while i was sleeping. I don’t read any email. I don’t look at any social media apps.

The only thing I think of are two things: which method will I use to brew my coffee (I typically use a V60 but sometimes I opt for an Aeropress) and what do I write about.

Looking back, around 70% of the articles I published the last 30 days are all new. Meaning, i’ve had to go through the research, writing, editing, and adding the final touches to all of them. The 30% were either repurposed from other content I’ve written before, or some already have drafts so i just had to finalize them.

Writing Process

I follow a process that I read from one of the newsletters I received early last year. I can’t remember where it’s from but it goes something like this:

  1. Outline
  2. First draft
  3. Final touches
  4. Proofreading/publishing

The original article I read used those 4 distinct phases as a task you do each day. Let’s say on Monday, you simply write the outline to the article you want. Think about the title, which headers and subheaders you’ll be using. The next day, you write your first draft. Just write whatever comes to mind. No editing. Just put words to paper.

On Wednesday, you put the final touches on the article. You add some images, screenshots, etc. Then leave it once it’s done. The next day, that’s when you give it a final look. Adjust any copy or anything that needs to be finalized. Then, you publish and distribute.

I somewhat adopted that into my own workflow. Basically in Ulysses, I have different groups for that writing process and my own distribution process. It looks like this…

Ulysses Writing Workflow

Instead of following that process one day at a time, I took the concept and made it into my workflow. For example, whenever I’m in the mood to write some outlines, I do a couple in one sitting. Sometimes, when I’m at the grocery waiting in line to pay, I put out my phone and start outlining an article.

Then, whenever I get a chance to sit on my computer, I expand those into articles. That’ll be my first draft. Once I’m done with those, I move them over to the Final Touches stage. That’s then I add images and screenshots, maybe even record a video.

Then this is almost always the case— I do the publishing/scheduling at least 1 day after I finished the final touches. That way, I can look at the article with fresh eyes. I can spot stuff I missed more easily.

The only thing that I wasn’t able to do more during this 30 days is follow my own distribution process. The writing already takes a lot of time and the distribution process I had planned will probably involve an extra hour or two per article. So, that was something I needed to do better in the future.


Since I didn’t do much distribution elsewhere apart from basic sharing on social media, I’m focusing on organic traffic only.

My organic traffic grew by 4.93% from December. And that’s comparing 31 days in December with only 30 days in January. I’ll most likely update this again on the first week of February to reflect the same monthly comparison.

And as I’ve said in the past before, traffic by itself is useless. What matters is how that traffic affects your business as a whole. In my case, my website is not my primary source of income. So this is relatively okay. I know that from the start so I didn’t focus on generating leads.

But, having said that, I still got a 300% increase in leads from December.

Well, the number is a bit misleading since I only have two new leads last December, but got 8 new ones this month. All of these are newsletter subscribers, by the way.

Nothing too fancy. Just regular growth. Slow and steady.

For a long time, this website has been in the back burner. I didn’t spend a lot of time growing my traffic nor generating leads and revenues from it. I write and publish whenever i think of doing it. For example in 2019, I only published 16 articles last year (2019).

But that will all change this year. That’s why I took this 30-day challenge.

It’s a great starter project for 2020.

I honestly didn’t have expectations on traffic, much more on leads. All I wanted was to challenge myself to write more.

Plans for the Upcoming Months

Now that I’ve completed the 30-day challenge, I still plan to write more content, but would dial it back to once a week. Then, as I mentioned above, I’ll do better in the distribution aspect as that’s what’s going to affect the outcome and bring in the results.

I follow the OKR principle— so I have my own Q1 goals. I wrote them on Post-it’s and stuck them to my Bullet Journal. Underneath each post-it are my scores for the week. That way, I get to track my progress. So far, I have a score of 0.5.

If you’re familiar with OKRs, that’s a fairly okay number. If I have a 0.8-1 score, my goals are probably not stretched and way too easy to achieve. If my scores are lower, I could have set impossible goals. So, I think I’m right in the middle.

It’s a long road ahead. We’re one month down in this new year. I hope that whatever resolution or goals you wished to accomplish, you are close to hitting them.

Credentials Are Not The Best Predictor of High Performance


Managers often hire a person on their team on the basis of a person’s credentials. While it may be one of the most common indicators, it is not the best indicator of a person’s likelihood to achieve high performance. And I do not have to argue that achieving high performance is your goal as a manager, right?

Mark Horstman of Manager Tools said “interviewing is a black box.” It is one of those areas where we, as managers, are expected to know or be good at, but were never taught how to interview nor were given any training.

There is no one right way to do this. However, the next worse option is to conduct behavioral interviews. It stems from the notion that future behavior is best predicted by past behavior. What that means is because you did it in the past, you are most likely to do it again in the future.

Again, bringing the focus on results and high performance, here are a few examples of what to look for:

  1. Bringing in a project on time and in budget
  2. Meeting deadlines
  3. Handled multiple projects simultaneously

These are what every manager wants, right? But because we were not taught how to interview nor told what to look for, we just use the same gauge our manager used for us (who were not taught how to interview as well) — which are credentials:

  1. University or college you went to
  2. Honors like suma cum laude
  3. Other certifications
  4. What companies you worked for

See the difference? The first set of identifiers do not discriminate. It does not look at superficial data. It enables you to know if the person can do the job you are hiring him for. The second set gives you shallow facts. It does not indicate if the person is equipped with the skills you need for the job.

Let us say you have a candidate who worked at multinational company. The fact that he listed it in his resume does not mean he is any good at all. Remember, managers were never taught how to manage.  Most just learned on the job. For all you know the manager at that company made a mistake at hiring him and wanted him out. But the manager does not know how to fire as well (another topic for another discussion).

You want results and high performance. If you do not ask the right questions, you will not feel at ease in hiring that person. Ask the right ones. Use behavioral interview questions to determine what they did in the past. Stop using credentials as the basis of your hiring.

PS: this precludes that you have to know what you are looking for in the candidate. As the manager, you do not just wing it nor go by your gut feeling. It involves you knowing what it takes to be successful in that job you are hiring for.

The Secrets to a Great Career


Results and relationships — these two are the cornerstones of a great career. I learned this from Manager Tools. There are a lot of intricacies that go behind that claim, but essentially one cannot exist without the other.

Having great results can only take you so far. No matter how great you are, when you keep stepping on other people’s shoes or making other people feel inferior, you will not get so far. A time will come where you will reach a dead end.

On the other hand, no amount of schmoozing can make you likable enough to get on top. Yes, you may be liked by everyone, but at some point, you will hear “you’re nice and everyone likes you, but you haven’t done anything extraordinary either.”

One cannot exist without the other. If you want a great career, you need to have results and relationships.