Home Business Jumpstart Tips Series: Can You Fire a Client?
Aug 18, 2022 2:31 pm
Can You Fire a Client?
As home business owners we focus a lot on how to get clients. It might seem a bit counterintuitive to write a newsletter about firing them. Stick with me, because at some point in your home business experience the need to cut ties with a client is going to rear its ugly head. When it does, you're going to want to know the best way to do it without harming your reputation. I'm going to try to give you some advice on how to do that.
I'd been in business a little over a year when I came to the realization that I'd signed a client who was a classic micromanager. It was clear they were used to hovering over employees in an attempt to control not only when tasks were done, but how they were accomplished. That didn't work for me for several reasons.
First, as a services-based business, they weren't my only client, which meant I had to balance my time between this client and the others. It was upsetting to both them and me when they 'checked in' frequently looking for updates on their projects and I had to explain that their items weren't on my schedule for that day.
And second, the stress that resulted from their insisting on updates several times a day was draining me and making me dread working in my own business.
It became clear I needed to fire this client. But how?
For all the advice there was on finding clients, I couldn't find a single thing out there about firing one. I was worried that they would get angry and ruin my reputation just as I was starting to build a good one. I was super scared to have the conversation with them, but I was also very aware that having them as a client was hurting my business. After a lot of soul-searching, I communicated with the client letting them know that I didn't feel our work styles were compatible and that I would no longer be providing services for them. While I'm sure they weren't thrilled to hear it, none of my imaginary scenarios about them spreading bad reviews came true. It was a good lesson for me as a business owner because although that was the first time I ever fired a client, it certainly wasn't the last.
Reasons you might need to fire a client.
Micro-management isn't the only reason you might need to fire a client. Some other scenarios that might warrant giving a pink slip to one of your clients might be:
- You decide to drop a service that isn't working for your business.
- A client is consistently late paying
- A client's requirements would put you in danger of being considered an employee rather than an independent contractor.
- A client has issues communicating clearly or in a timely manner.
These are some common reasons you might feel the need to fire a client, but they aren't the only reasons. Only you can determine if a client is a good fit for your business or not.
Tips for saying 'You're fired'.
The most important thing you can do is communicate with the client. It's tempting to just go silent and disappear, but that will definitely get you those bad reviews I was worried about. While you may not be able to be brutally honest, you can gently let them know that the relationship isn't working for your business. I think it's important to stress the business aspect here and avoid making it personal.
Don't wait until it gets out of hand
firing a client isn't easy, but waiting too long only leads to frustration and problems. When you realize it isn't working for you, cut the cord as soon as possible.
While finding clients is important for your business, it's equally as important to know when to fire one. It's all part of building a successful home business
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