This week I received a message on LinkedIn – it was from another professional I work with who was experiencing difficulties with a client and wanted some advice on how to proceed. She said the client was throwing up a lot of ‘red flags’ and she was feeling uncomfortable working with them.

Sadly I could relate. I think we’ve all had clients who have stretched (or stomped over) our boundaries and we breathe a sigh of relief when the project comes to an end. It took me a while to learn that the term is ‘red flag client’ and I was deep into their website when the signs appeared.

I work for myself. I also have 3 kids, a dog and a partner so time is precious and when I’m working I want to make the most of my time. After all, it’s not how much time you have, it’s how productive you are with it.

The biggest drain on my time, other than the kids constantly asking for snacks, are these red flag clients. Red flag clients can come in all shapes and sizes, rude, polite, demanding, insecure, they all add up to the same thing: A drain on time and energy.

Here are some examples of red flag clients:

They have fired other professionals who have done a perfectly good job, before coming to you.

They push the boundaries of agreed time expectations and limits.

They contact you on your personal email/phone number at all times of the day and night.

They demand you create work without properly explaining the process.

They don’t use the proper channels for sending you information. (If you send me an image on WhatsApp I can’t use it on your website due to the image having been compressed).

Your previously good relationship with them suddenly sours and you don’t quite know why.

Back in the day of having first set up my business I would work with anyone in order to get my business established. It didn’t matter if their expectations were unreasonable or they were asking me to do something outside of the agreed job spec. I started to dread working with them but didn’t know what to do about it. It was only when I found myself working at midnight on Christmas Eve, still not having put the presents under the tree and having left my partner to put all 3 kids to bed, that I realised something had to give.

I made a resolution that I wouldn’t go into 2020 with broken boundaries, red flag clients and life would be easier for it. Ha! Obviously I had no idea what 2020 had in store for us. However, the one thing that has made this year easier, other than discovering you can loop white noise on the Alexa and the baby will sleep longer, is that I’ve really held boundaries when it comes to work. Not working until all hours of the day and night. Only starting projects when I have all of the content ready and it’s enabled me to:

Identify red flag clients and suggest they would have a better working relationship with someone else.

Be more productive with my time and energy when building websites.

Build more websites and grow my business.

Have the time to make and nurture relationships with other professionals.

The upshot is there are no downsides to not working with people who hijack your time and make you feel compromised. I’m starting to plan what 2021 will (hopefully) look like for me business-wise and top of my list is: no red flags!