We all have that one client. You know the one I’m talking about.

This client feeds on good ideas and the souls of dreamers.

This client is mean and condescending, second-guessing every point of strategy you recommend, of which the end product will never be good enough.

This client is needy, sending multiple emails in waves of sentence fragments and non-sequiturs that make less sense than Donald Trump’s tweets at 3am.

When you see these emails, you become preemptively angry at the avalanche of crazy that is about to come barreling down on you with crushing weight.

Basically, this client is making life for you and your team a living hell.

Now, here’s the M Night Shamalyn twist: This is also your most profitable client.


It’s time to briefly press pause and ask yourself, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” (Click to Tweet.)


At first you’ll say, yes, of course. This is our most profitable client. They pay us the most money. It would be foolish to get rid of them.

But how profitable are they REALLY? Because every time this client takes up room in your brain space, the ROI of the project diminishes.

There is a real opportunity cost to constantly dealing with a nightmare of a client. Not only are they sucking your soul, but they are also sucking time and energy that could be dedicated to new, exciting projects with clients who are actually tolerable.

Take a hard look by calculating the actual ROI: Take the total revenue generated from this client divided by the total number of hours worked. Be sure to include every single interaction this client takes up in your brain space.

This includes time spent on:

  • Phone calls, texts, and emails
  • Doing damage control when the client wreaks havoc on your team
  • The sleepless nights spent staring at the ceiling, worrying about this client and the shadow of malaise they cast on your life.

If you add all this up, and the ROI is lower than the ROI of your other clients, it’s time for a CTJ, or a “Come to Jesus” talk.

As with romantic relationships, sometimes you have to break up with a client. The good news is that you can be as honest as you want to be. Be respectful and forthright. Have a conversation that your mother would be proud of.

I’m not an advocate for burning bridges, because life is strange, and you may have to cross back over them one day.

However, I am an advocate for working with people who “get you.” People who are picking up what you’re putting down. Because perhaps a part of your struggle is that your vision is different than your clients’ vision.

And, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Because here’s the bottom line: When you start compromising constantly, it often creates very mediocre results.

When you couple compromise with a client who is a constant source of stress, your work product inevitably suffers because it becomes a chore or an obligation instead of an exciting collaboration.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with incredible clients over the past year since I’ve started my own business. Because a part of creating the life you want to lead is determining who you let into your brain space – and who you keep out.

 At the end of the day, no one pays the rent on your brain space but you – be careful who you shack up with. (Click to Tweet.)

Trust me, your team will thank you.