By Joanna Martin
If you’re like most people, when you first started your business you were happy to work with anyone who wanted to hire you… possibly you didn’t recognize your true worth either so your fees were lower in the beginning too?
Would you agree?
Then, a little way down the line, your business began to take off… you felt more comfortable charging higher rates and your income began to grow steadily. You were earning what you deserved and you, and your clients were valuing your time much higher.
Am I right?
Did you go back to your original clients and explain that you were increasing your rates? Or, did you continue to work with them at the rate you originally agreed and found yourself working hard for them for very little return?
Do you enjoy working with all of your clients now or are there any who you wish you didn’t have to work with anymore? Do you ever get up in the morning, check your appointments diary and feel your heart sinking when you spot one of your least favourite clients on the list?
We’ve all been there, but you really only have two choices… carry on working with clients who no longer inspire you, or… not.
And by that I mean you decide that your needs are important too, and find the strength to discontinue the relationship.
It isn’t always about money… I’m sure you’ve worked with at least one client who is resistant to change, doesn’t value your input or won’t commit to taking action?
And yet, you have other clients who love what you do and take steps to implement change who leave you feeling inspired and full of joy when you work together.
Secretly you know it would be great if ALL your clients were like that.
But it’s difficult right? How do you terminate a client relationship?
Don’t do anything rash:
Could this be resolved with a frank conversation that would allow you to continue the relationship? Have you broached this issue with your client before? Are they aware of how you feel? Do they feel the same?
Maybe, conveying your feelings openly and honestly in a face-to-face conversation with your client will be enough to find a resolution that will save the relationship?
Get clarity on why you no longer feel great about working with them. If it is financial, what rate is more appropriate for the work you do? Instead of increasing the rate, can you negotiate on the volume of work or time taken instead?
Smooth the changeover:
Do you know someone else in your field that would enjoy working with your client? Just because they aren’t right for you, they may be someone else’s ideal client? Do some discreet research before you speak with your client… nobody likes change… their first thought is likely going to be “what do I do now?!”
Showing them you have their interests at heart by being able to offer an alternative will make this process easier for them… and for you too.
When you do sit down to discuss terminating the contract, be honest… but not brutally so… with your client. Explain why you feel you can no longer work together and detail the alternative options that you can offer as a compromise.
They may become emotional; they could feel aggrieved and become defensive but stay calm and professional… don’t use this as an opportunity to list all their faults… it’s not a personal decision but one you need to take for the sake of your business.
Nobody likes losing clients but if you have come to the conclusion that a parting of the ways is the best option for you, don’t feel guilty. Continuing to work with a client who doesn’t leave you feeling fulfilled, is taking space and energy that stops an ideal client from finding you.
The universe has many gifts, and this decision you’ve made to lose one bad client, may just be the trigger that opens the door and invites magic to come your way.
Have you had to part ways with a client? Are you realising you have clients who you aren’t able to give your best to that stops your business being fun? How have you handled this in your business?