In my line of work, I receive a constant onslaught of phone calls, emails, and Facebook messages from clients who have specific needs, wants, problems and/or issues. On top of being a salesman, marketer, advertiser and project manager, I’m a client service representative: the beauty of being an entrepreneur. One day the clients may like blue, the next day they like green. I’ve come to realize I need to go with the flow in order to make them happy.


Over the past year, I’ve been blessed with some of the greatest, most cooperative and appreciative clients. Conversely, I’ve been tested with some of the most challenging, undesirable, and just plain horrible clients. Like anything, with the good comes the bad and vice-versa.

When I was first starting BJC Branding, I had a client approach me for a 3-month project. Having no clients, nor a portfolio to boast, I jumped at the chance. We signed a contract, and I got to work on developing the SEO and overall structure for his flash-based site. This guy was such an egotist and control freak that he’d send me a barrage of nearly 10 emails a day with all kinds of demands.

I’d literally be working on a project, and he’d send an email telling me the project had changed or was on hold. I’d call him to clarify, and he’d tell me I should have sent an email. Probably one of the most frustrating work experiences I’ve had. Even better, he refused to pay after the first month because “I wasn’t following his vision.” This guy was a real piece of work. (Note, his “vision” is still in development a year later and will ultimately be a huge, expensive bust. I’d share it, but I don’t want to waste your time.)

On another occasion, I worked for a franchise client for nearly 8 months: building websites, running eCommerce shopping carts, developing and reselling software, sending email marketing campaigns and building social media profiles with the promise of riches beyond my wildest dreams. I was the golden boy, the tech wiz, the missing link to bring that organization to the next level.

Imagine hearing everyday: “This is gonna be great, brother. The work you’re doing is amazing! We’re expecting 50 new sign ups, and you’ll be getting a piece of all of it.” 50 sign ups at $5,000-$10,000 a piece plus residuals? And I get a piece of it? AMAZING! Sign Me Up! As a naive, up-and-coming 24 year old, I believed every word and chased after that dangling carrot like there was no tomorrow.

The carrot turned out to be rotten. Guess how much I was paid? No, not $0; actually, I ended up spending $600+ on plane tickets and a hotel room. My greed got the better of me, and I learned from it. As you can imagine, I felt like a worthless, helpless, hopeless asshole after terminating the agreement with this client. I was used and abused. I was like a custom tailor thinking they’re working for DG or Dior and finding out they’re actually in a Kathy Lee Gifford sweatshop in Indonesia. Horrible, gut-wrenching feeling and a major slap to the face!

Funny enough, I have to thank both of those clients.

The first client, as much of a schmuck as he was, taught me that a contract is only as good as the person with whom you’re doing business. If you consider yourself a good judge of character and have second thoughts, then DON’T DO IT!
The second client, with his promise of caviar wishes and champagne dreams, taught me to have realistic expectations and cover my ass in any venture. He also taught me the all-important lesson of receiving a retainer up front. I appreciate him in all his slimy, salesman glory.
They don’t teach you this kind of stuff in marketing class; you have to live it to learn it.

Clients: you gotta love ‘em!

Jake Burns