You can usually tell very quickly whether a client will be a good partner with whom to work. Small things are good indicators: billing is one example. If you submit a clear, honest and straightforward invoice to a client for a job well done, most will pay it promptly and with appreciation for your efforts. Some clients, however, will take forever to pay it, or contest you unreasonably about it.
I mentioned this theory recently to a friend who has run many businesses. He told me that when he had a successful accounting practice some years ago he decided to part with all of his most troublesome clients. The decision was a scary one; it divided his expected revenue in half. Within a year, he told me, he was back to where he had been, but he had more free time and fewer hassles – and a better client base by far.The conversation made me resolve to be more vigilant in my efforts in two spheres. One, to make sure that I am a good egg myself (my intentions are fine, but I can think of times I fall short); and two, to be better at avoiding the bad eggs.