It's Okay to Break Up
Not every client is a great match. Letting go of a “problem client” – especially for the first time – can be an emotionally charged experience. During my first year as a full-time entrepreneur, I let go of three clients! The first time I agonized about how I would tell the client. Firing my first client helped me grow and better understand my deal breakers.
Recognizing that it’s time to part ways is an important step. Here are a few reasons I decided it was time to break up with a client.
1. Doing Work that I Didn’t Want to be Known For
As a new entrepreneur it is easy to get wrapped up in additional work. We want to satisfy the client. We want the new referrals. However, our ‘can do’ attitudes can drive us to do work that we’re not exactly excited about. In April, I shared that I’m Not Really an Event Planner. I enjoy writing, pitching media, working on strategies – but I absolutely hate event planning. While the event I planned went well, I didn’t enjoy the process. And I was expected to lead the next event for the client. This experience helped me respectfully decline event planning requests from new and existing clients.
2. The Disrespect and Habitual Line Stepping
Dealing with a meanie is exhausting! Every job has its level of crazy but it is important as an entrepreneur to draw the line. During my first 90-days on an account, a member of the leadership team told me that he believed my predecessor was incompetent and therefore, I must be incompetent too. Despite the quality work produced, this person continued to be a micromanager and a bully. When I addressed my concerns with other members of the leadership team, they quickly dismissed the unprofessional behavior and said things like ‘Oh that’s just how he is’ and that I should ‘focus on the positive.’
It cost nothing to treat someone with kindness and respect. If your client isn’t treating you right – RUN! The money will never be worth the mental stress.
3. They’re Not Listening
Professional disagreements are a normal part of business. However, if a client consistently rejects your recommendations, it might be time to leave. One client dismissed several recommendations regarding their campaign and the results were poor. Another client never read their emails and insisted that I was the poor communicator. I spent more time cleaning up the mess of those accounts and my other clients were neglected. I won’t do that again.
Dear client, you’re not the expert! That is why I am here! But if you think you know best – let’s part ways. I respect my time and talent too much to be micromanaged and/or be blamed for a problem you created.
“Problem clients” can rob you of your energy and cheat you out of clients that are better for your business. If the relationship no longer serves its purpose, let it go and trust that better clients will present themselves. In the long run, you and your business and your new clients will thank you.