During the fledgling stage of any business, paying clients are undoubtedly atop the must-have list, irrespective of their varying degrees of psychosis and/or unyielding ineptitude. Those paltry pay cheques we cash every month are what prevents us from checking in at the soup kitchen on a weekly basis, thus creating an unnatural level of dependence, and even borderline separation anxiety.

But as the business grows, and the clients become more plentiful, this need to cling to every single benefactor like a barnacle starts to lessen somewhat. And while it can be hard to fight the primal urge to hold on tight, the sheer volume of meetings and administrative nightmares attached to each client can become unbearable, leaving entrepreneurs with a few tough choices to make.

Do you simply keep upping your staff contingent and hope your brain doesn’t explode from information overload as you line those clients up like collectible toys? Or do you cut the fat to create a leaner, meaner and ultimately more effective machine?

Simple mathematics would suggest that the latter is a more sensible course of action. Less stress, less drama, less ‘please change that line I already changed back to the one you originally suggested’. Simply put, there are only so many hours in the day, and people who consume the vast majority of them without compensating accordingly should be shown the door if you’ve any hope of operating at optimal efficiency.

So as your business grows and your tolerance for unnecessary shenanigans grows ever thinner, how do you decide whom to ditch? Here are a few classic scenarios that you should walk away from the second your finances allow:

The Impossible Ask

We all have that one client who seems to be under the misapprehension that we are able to perform magic. Despite having clearly advertised the specifics of your skill set (as well as its limitations), they seem somehow incredulous when you are unable to deliver massive sales on a barely-there budget.

These are usually smaller clients who have convinced themselves that hitching themselves to your wagon is their ticket to the big time, and have failed to make any contingency plans. This over-reliance is not only discouraging and bad for morale, but it’s also a drain on time and resources.

So rather than spending your life trying to reinvent your capabilities simply to service the needs of what is probably your lowest paying client, walk away and go where you’re likely to be more appreciated and fulfilled.

The Hurry Up And Wait

There is perhaps no greater evil in this world than the client who demands immediate responses and super-human turnaround times, only to then promptly ignore the product of your sleepless nights and countless heart palpitations for weeks or even months.

This type of inconsiderate behaviour plunges the business into a dangerous form of holding pattern, making it very hard to ever get ahead or actually nail down any plans. Instead, you simply hover in a constant state of terror, aware that at any moment your inbox could become a war zone, and that all your carefully mapped out schedules could once again be thrown into disarray.

Simply put, this kind of client is toxic for any business. There’s no amount of revenue that can compensate for a lack of respect.

The Control Freak

Now, when one is hired as a specialist supplier, one might make the mistake of thinking that your client would defer to your expertise. This, as it turns out, is a wildly inaccurate assumption.

There’s always going to be that one person who thinks they know better, who insists on implementing their own ideas simply for the sake of being in control. In the end, one becomes little more than a personal assistant, merely executing based on the whims of a person unwilling to relinquish the reins, no matter how little they know about the discipline in question.

To remain in a situation like this is to undersell your own abilities. If your client isn’t willing to take their lead from you, they may as well do it themselves. The question is: do you have the guts to call their bluff?