Sometimes you can salvage the relationship, but other times it’s best to cut your losses and save you both the heartache (and headaches!).
Here are three reasons to say good-bye:
1. The client doesn’t value your expertise
Most small business owners are really good at something and that’s why people choose to hire them. But some clients push back. A lot.
It’s a folly to expect that every client will take every single one of your recommendations, but if a client is hiring you for your expertise and then consistently disregarding it, that’s not ideal.
Not to sound like a relationship coach, but if there isn’t trust between you and your clients, things will never work. Sure, you might limp along together for a while, but chances are you’ll be frustrated and your client won’t be satisfied.
Cutting things off sooner rather than later will not only save you stress, it could also preserve your relationship. You never want to let it get bad enough that a client starts bad-mouthing you to other people.
2. The client wants different services than you offer
A few years back, a prospect asked me if I could do strategy sessions, via bi-monthly Skype calls. While I love talking strategy, working as a strategy coach wasn’t something I’d ever done before. I thought, why not? Half an hour every other week and I don’t have any homework – no problem!
As the months went on, it seemed we talked less about strategy, and dealt more with basic accountability. This isn’t what I do, and quite frankly I wasn’t good at it.
I don’t think it’s a bad thing to try out new services, and every business owner has been in the situation of taking on a client simply because they need the money. That said, you don’t have to be everything to everybody. If it turns out that this new service doesn’t work for your business model, consider cutting things off so you can focus on the things that really benefit your business.
Making a referral to help the client find a better fit for their needs lets you escape gracefully.
3. You just can’t get along
Most of us like to think we’re professional enough to deal with any type of person, but the truth is that not everyone is meant to work together. We all have our own style of doing business, and that doesn’t always mesh with others.
Some things that seem relatively innocuous, such as you prefer to have phone conversations while your client wants to communicate through Slack, might be a sign of incompatibility. Or perhaps you speak bluntly and tell it like it is, but find that offends your client.
If your styles don’t mesh, it’s no one’s fault, but figuring that out sooner rather than later can help you avoid the blame game.
Having clients is part of owning a business. There will be ones you love and ones you hate don’t love so much. I am a firm believer that it’s actually the bad clients that make our businesses better; however, there are also times when it’s better to cut your losses and move on. That too will make your business better.