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When losing a client is a good thing…

Square Peg in a Round Hole_0565I lost a client today.

Not for the first time and probably not the last. In my 8-plus years of running small businesses (first a local newspaper and now with Just Too Busy) I have lost a few advertisers and clients. It happens to everyone – sometimes the fit isn’t right, sometimes the expectations aren’t right and sometimes it’s just better to part ways.

Now anyone who says they have never lost a client or a customer is either one) insane (yes insanity is fun but hardly practical) OR two) they are lying. Now I hate to cast aspersions on anyone and I would much rather believe we are all slightly bonkers, so let’s go with the former.

But whereas 8 years ago, losing an advertiser, or even 4 years ago, losing a client, was a devastating situation for me, now I find peace with it. If you get to a point with a client when either you or they or both know it’s time to call it a day, then so be it.

The reasons may be simple, they may be complex. It may simply be that they have run out of funds or their business has got to a point where your services or products are no longer applicable. Whatever the reason, even if it’s because you messed up (and let’s face it we all mess up sometimes – we’re not perfect!), then there is a bigger picture – and that is maybe your business and that client weren’t meant to mix at this particular time.

It’s not that you aren’t great at what you do – because you are! But it could be that you messed up because you were doing something that wasn’t aligned with what you really want to do with your business – or was it because their business no longer excited and inspired you or was it because their expectations of you didn’t match your skill set?

This has happened to me twice in 8 years and, I admit I messed up. BUT I know why. In BOTH cases I agreed to take on work that in the beginning was exactly what I wanted to do but then, as the working relationship progressed (and in the first case as my business changed), the situation changed to include work I didn’t want to do and I began to lose motivation and interest.

Little-girl-with-heartNow what I have learned is that I didn’t mess up because I couldn’t do the job. I messed up because I didn’t WANT to do the job. BIG difference. And once I realised that, I stopped torturing myself and moved on.

After lessons learned from these two experiences I know better and will simply not accept work that I don’t really want to do, am not really inspired by or that I won’t really enjoy doing.

But it’s not just about messing up – although that’s one subconsciously-driven way to lose a client. It’s about pro-actively losing a client.

I did that last year and it was a relief but didn’t go the way I planned. I did it today – for the second time – and it felt great. More importantly, it was the right thing to do. If a client relationship is just not working for you then you need to take action. Have the confidence to know that even without this client, your business is a success. And if the relationship is not enjoyable for you, then ‘losing’ a client is really a good thing for you; your peace of mind; your integrity and ultimately your business.

And on the day that I ‘lost’ a client (today) – I gained two more, worth twice as much over… each!