Not every client that you take on is going to be your ideal client. Sometimes you’re just starting out in business and looking for anybody who will actually pay for your services. I’ve totally been there, done that.
Other times, you take on a new client because her project sounds really great or they sound really great or everything is just going to be really great. Even if the project isn’t exactly up your alley, you’re going to make it work because it just sounds so great. (Great, right!?) But once you get started in the project, you realize that things aren’t so great after all and the project or the client isn’t a good fit for you (or vice versa).
It’s also possible that you’re working with a long-term client and your business or your client’s business changes. Slowly, the client is no longer a good fit for where you want to go in your business. Whether you like it or not, it might be time to let the client go.
[bctt tweet=”Not every client is an ideal fit for your business. And that’s okay.” username=””]
I’ve been in all these situations, and it doesn’t get easier to have those tough conversations that lead to walking away from the client (or, again, vice versa). But I do think that the timeframe between realizing that it’s not going to work and actually releasing the client has gotten shorter for me.
The first time I released a client I was in that kind of desperation mode where I really needed the work (um…the money) and I actually really liked the client as a person. But something happened to me and my business when I told her that the relationship wasn’t working for me anymore. Something amazing.
Since then, I’ve released several clients and several have been a mutual decision between me and the client where we knew it wasn’t working. Here’s what happens every time I part ways with a client.
I get more clear on who I want to serve and what I want to do.
Let’s be honest. There are clients we take on who end up not being a good fit. Either your personalities clash or you don’t enjoy the project or they push your boundaries. When this happens, I take a mental note. I recently realized that if X and Y are involved, this prospect won’t be a good fit for me. And that’s okay. There are other people in my audience who would be a great fit.
The longer I’m in business, the more I know exactly who I want to work with and how I want to serve them. I’m able to tweak my services to match where my heart is. And that feels good.
[bctt tweet=”The longer I’m in business, the more clear I am on my ideal client.” username=””]
I open space for those people and projects.
When I part ways with those who aren’t a great fit, I free up my time for others who are. I recently parted ways with a client whose business I just couldn’t wrap my mind around. Projects were taking much longer than they should because I wasn’t “getting it.” I didn’t understand the way the business ran and it showed in my copy. The client and I talked about it and mutually agreed that the relationship wasn’t working. Did it feel good? Nope, not at all. But I wasn’t serving either of our businesses by continuing to try to fit into her team.
In the time I was spending on that client’s work, I could take on twice as much work. That’s not to fault the client—it’s not her fault I struggled with the content. But severing ties allowed me to have the space to work with clients and with content that I “get” and can flourish with.
My onboarding systems get tighter.
I recently didn’t follow my own onboarding system with a new client, and that caused the project to quickly go south. There are certain things that I absolutely must have from my clients in order to have a successful relationship. One of those things is a one-to-one conversation with them. I mistakenly took on a project where the end client was very inaccessible and, therefore, I never had a conversation with him. But I wrote the copy anyway, copy that didn’t have any personality or flair. I was frustrated and unhappy with the result and the client wasn’t happy with my work. Go figure.
While this was the second time I got myself in this situation, lesson learned and I won’t do it again. Having a conversation with the end client is non-negotiable for me. That’s where the voice of the client comes out—better than it could with any questionnaire.
I make more money.
This seems a little counter-intuitive, that I make more money when I let clients go. But it’s true. I parted ways with one of my very first freelance clients a few months ago. I had been working for the company for about nine years and while they taught me so much about business, they simply couldn’t afford to pay me what I knew I should be charging. I wasn’t excited about the work anymore and, frankly, wasn’t turning out the quality I should have been because I resented the pay rate and the client’s processes.
When I left the project by mutual agreement (they knew I wasn’t happy and things weren’t working out), I was able to earn more money on projects that fit my pay rate.
[bctt tweet=”Losing a client can mean more clarity in biz and the ability to increase revenue.” username=””]
I release stress and love my business (and clients) even more.
When a business relationship isn’t a good fit, I feel anxiety when I sit down to do the work. My stomach drops when I get an email from the client. I sit, stressed, as I wait for feedback. None of this brings me joy.
But when I’m able to release projects and clients that aren’t a good fit, I can feel a weight lifted off my shoulders and I am happier in life and in work. Because it doesn’t really feel like work anymore.
It doesn’t happen often, that I feel like I need to release a client. I think I’ve been in business long enough to target my efforts toward attracting just the right person. But every once in a while, I make a shift or I take on a project that ends up not being a good fit for me or for the client. And in those cases, I’d like to think that I’m getting really good at recognizing this early on—for the benefit of both the client and me.
Tell me about your experiences with releasing or losing clients. How do you have those difficult conversations that end up bring you more peace of mind and better results—for yourself and your clients?