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 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.
Until a few months ago when I fired two of my longest standing design clients and it was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and for them.
There were some stand-out reasons why these relationships weren’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 I had ‘left them hanging’. What if they wrote damaging things on my 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 went 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 and my staff knew I had their back, which gave 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.