When I started out, and formed my business, I did what most do. I took any and every client that came my way. I wasn’t discerning, I was just hungry. It didn’t matter if they were a good fit for me, or I was good for them. As long as they signed on the dotted line and sent me a check after each project, I would go to the ends of the earth to service them. A few months ago I fired two of my longest standing design clients and it was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and for them.
Here are the reasons the relationship wasn’t working for me:
• They were demanding
• They stifled my creativity
• They didn’t listen to my opinion
• They always rushed projects because they didn’t plan ahead
• They gave me no gratitude for the hard work I felt I put into their projects
• They were my lowest paying clients – I kept their rates from our initial deals 5 years prior
I didn’t want to lose them though. Like most, I try hard to be liked. I also didn’t want to damage my reputation or my company’s — thinking they might tell others how I’ve screwed them or left them hanging. They might even write damaging things on social media or setup a hate blog.
Both of these clients pushed my buttons all the time, and I allowed them to. I politely responded to their nasty emails and phone calls. I did my best to always please them, and go out of my way to serve them.
One day they pushed the wrong button though. Each sent a nasty email to one of my staff, and that crossed a boundary I was not willing to budge on. I fired them both that month. I told them if they refused to speak in a professional way to my staff, that I wasn’t interested in working with them.
An amazing thing happened. Getting rid of that cancer set me free. I got two new clients that spent 10 times more per month that were a pleasure to deal with. My staff knew I had their back and that gives me a new level of respect. Firing those two clients was the best thing I ever did. It was an incredible win-win!
None of the negative things ever came about either, by the way. Moral of the story: be fearless, follow your heart and drop the dead weight when it’s getting in the way of your own progress.