Fire Your Clients

Fire Your Clients
By Brad Weston

fire your clientsThe business of making a living as an entertainer is hard enough as it is, the last thing you need is emotional distress. Most of the clients that I have worked with have been awesome. They want to share the variety arts with their guests, clients, or employees. The bad clients, however, can give you little money or prestige. They can be a pain in the rear. It’s true that each show can lead to more bookings, but frankly, would you want to work for the friends of these people? If your client is a lemon, get rid of them. You will make more money in the long run if you do.

I have written before about the power of saying no. This article is about the power of saying no more gigs from bad clients.

I Had a Problem
I had a client call to ask me a lot of questions over a long period of time, after we had agreed to the show. That, in and of itself, is never a reason for concern. If a person is spending money they deserve to get a thorough understanding of what they are buying before they get it. That’s only natural. I would prefer if they could ask several questions at a time instead of only one on each call, but sometimes that’s unavoidable. It happens to all of us from time to time.

I started to get a little nervous when he tried to make changes to my act that he felt would help the audience enjoy it a little more. He wanted me to improvise the performance with a live band of his own choosing in a style of music that I was unfamiliar with. It could have been interesting so I said I would give it a shot. Then he wanted my outfit to be made up of mostly gold and red. Okay, it was starting to get a little more challenging, but the budget was okay so I agreed that I could do a little shopping to help accommodate his vision.

I had to draw the line when he wanted me to get there 5 hours early and then be prepared to go on at any time and perform little 3 minute sets with no introduction or access to the stage. It seemed to me that he wouldn’t be getting his money’s worth if my act had no focus to draw the audience’s attention. We found a solution and it went to contract.

Before he returned a signed contract and with only a week to go before the event, he canceled. Apparently he had blown the budget on getting a second band instead.

He’s Back!
Nine months later he calls me back and tries to book a second gig. Strangely, I agree to it. A week later he calls me and wants me to convince him that he should hire me and not another performer instead. I politely asked him to stop calling me. Our business relationship was over. As a courtesy to him, I asked a couple of performer friends if they wanted the gig. Of course, they all said no.

When I told this guy no, he suddenly had to have me. He upped the money. He wrote me a really nice letter begging me to work for him. I simply couldn’t afford this guy. All of the time I spent working with him could have been spent getting other customers. I lost work the first time around holding a date for him. He was time waster and an emotional drag.

He called back a year later and I still had to tell him, “No, thank you.” He tried to tell me that I should be more professional, by which he meant I should not turn work down so that I could make more money. He even asked how my family would feel knowing that I made less money than I could have.

Financial Bullying
I had to think about that long and hard. Why would I turn down a chance to make money? It occurred to me that sometimes money can be used to bully people. This is something that some parents do to their children. They do this by paying for college or mentioning an inheritance, or even simply ridiculing their kids about what kind of car they drive. Bad friends and aquaintences can also engage in this kind of bad behaviour. Once you realize that financial bullying exists, you can be free to not become a victim of it.

It doesn’t often get talked directly in our culture; more money equals a higher status. Therefore, less money is construed as bad. Higher status people are subconsciously believed to be better than people with lower status. They are not. Further, they only maintain their status by other people playing along and believing in this kind of status in the first place.

Never forget: It’s your career. You are in charge of it. Sure you want to make a living at it, but you need to feel good about what you do in order to be able to stay in it for the long haul. Protect yourself and fire your bad clients.

Brad Weston is a writer, juggler, and client fire-er from way back. For more information about him and his work check out his website at

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