The Business New Year’s Resolution That Actually Stuck

A year ago, nearly to the day, I sat in an exam room at the doctor’s office during an annual physical and heard words I didn’t expect.

“Your blood pressure is high.”

Just as the doctor started to talk about how he was surprised, given I had shown no signs of it before and how it could likely be treated through medication, I thought of a better way to address it. That would happen not via the pharmacy or the gym or even at the dinner table. It had to happen at the office.

It led to a New Year’s resolution that would actually begin immediately: No bad clients.

Particular client situations had me on edge and were obviously affecting me professionally, mentally and even physically. That had to change, for good.

One of those client scenarios had to be addressed immediately. Our primary contact had gradually crossed lines from quirky to erratic to inappropriate to, ultimately, abusive.

Soon after the physical, I talked to the president of the company and let him know that we could no longer work with that individual. If that meant losing the company as a client, so be it. We have standards and values and those were not being met. My words to him exactly were, “I would rather make less money than work with him.”

We haven’t worked with him since. Our volume of activity for that client has dropped considerably as we have been assigned only a select few projects on which to work with top leadership directly. But the drop in revenue has resulted in addition by subtraction. The time we used to spend trying to manage an impossible personality has been replaced by better quality, more profitable, more enjoyable activity from other clients.

Bad clients are damaging in every possible respect. They tear down morale, they divert attention from good, deserving clients, they drain firms financially and they can even be literally bad for your health.

Another bad client situation from a year ago took care of itself. As hoped and expected, fraud of an employee was figured out by top leadership and our work for them appears back on track.

Otherwise, this resolution has led to better recognition of “red flags,” avoiding bad clients before even sending proposals our way.

The results have been nothing but positive. Not only did we have a strong year as a firm, my physical last week showed no signs of high blood pressure.

I got to get up every day this year to work with good clients. That’s a feeling I want to get used to. This is a New Year’s resolution that will carry over from year to year.