It’s never easy having to manage difficult clients. They can undermine your confidence, make you doubt your abilities and cause no end of headaches. If you don’t solve the disconnect, you’ll end up resenting them and the work you’re doing for them. And, if you’re not careful, they can even turn you away from working for yourself altogether.

The key is learning how to manage them effectively so they don’t negatively impact on you or your business. Here are 10 tips to make that easier for you.

#1: Be the CEO of your business

If you want to manage difficult clients, start by making the switch from employee mindset to that of a business owner. You are not an employee, so don’t act like one.

#2: Know what a good client looks like

You can also help avoid difficult clients by knowing what a good client looks like for you. Know your ideal client and use this as a gauge for all potential clients.

#3: Ensure you have clear guidelines and boundaries in place

Know what is and isn’t acceptable to you and ensure you relay that information to your clients. Your client contracts, terms and conditions, onboarding process, and website can help establish your guidelines and boundaries.

(Being honest here – often we start working with a client before we realise what some of our boundaries are… it’s only when we realise people are breaching them that we learn what they are!) 

#4: Help manage difficult clients by getting clear instructions for every task

Clear instructions can help reduce the likelihood of errors and assumptions. But also, they are helpful to refer back to if a client starts asking for things over and above the agreed list.

#5: Honour your own boundaries

You may have clear boundaries in place, but it’s equally important that you honour them yourself! If you don’t work weekends – don’t reply to emails! If you do, you’re setting a precedent for clients to do the same. Check out How to set boundaries in your VA business for more help on boundary setting.

#6: Learn to be firm and say no, especially when dealing with difficult clients

As the CEO of your own business, you must know when and how to give a firm no when needed. If they don’t respect your decision, they are welcome to go elsewhere.

#7: Give and receive respect to all your clients

And that brings us to our next tip – both you and your clients need to respect each other. Without it, you’re both in a lose-lose situation that can lead to resentment, a problematic relationship and an equally bad breakup!

#8: Reinforce your boundaries as needed

You need to be able to reinforce your boundaries, especially when managing difficult clients. Saying no is just one part of this – you also need to have the confidence and assertiveness to remind them when they’re stepping over the line too.

#9: Be prepared to manage difficult clients by firing them!

Sometimes, a firm hand is enough to manage demanding clients and pull them into line. But you also need to be prepared to let them go. Don’t look at it as losing money – opt instead to view it as clearing space for a better client to come along.

#10: Learn and improve as needed

And finally, do what’s needed to move on the experience. Don’t let a problematic client taint what you do or how you work. If there are lessons to be learned from the experience, note what you need to improve, tighten up or implement, and then move on.

When you’re in business for yourself, it can be challenging to learn how to navigate the road you’re on. It’s one reason you need to surround yourself with other people on a similar journey. Not only does it boost your confidence, but it also gives you access to the help and support you may need when it comes to issues such as learning to manage difficult clients.

So why not check out our VA Membership? It’s an affordable, supportive training community for VA professionals looking to accelerate their business success. You can find all the details on VA Membership here.