No. 132

How To Fire A Client

YOU LEARN A LOT BY SAYING YES

When I first started working for myself, I said yes to every project that came my way. Needed a full website designed and developed? Sure! Looking for some small changes to your site? I can help. Want to talk about social media and website strategies? Let’s set up an appointment.

I not only was paid to grow as a developer, but saying yes gave me many opportunities to grow as a business owner.

SAYING YES TEACHES YOU HOW TO SAY NO

Over the past year and a half, I’ve learned who my ideal client is. Some clients have been incredible joys to work with, while working with others has lead to nights I couldn’t sleep for all the worries and anxiety I had over their projects. I’ve always been a people pleaser, but always saying yes meant I was pleasing everyone but myself.

AND YOU NEED TO MASTER SAYING NO

I’m still tempted to say yes to everything, but being able to say no to clients who you’re not a good fit with gives you street cred. We love honesty when we find it in people, and we respect them for it. So when a potential client just isn’t the right one, I’ve started to say no. (Especially because sometimes saying “no” to a client is saying “yes” to myself and my needs.)

SAYING YES ISN’T A LIFETIME COMMITMENT

In the early phases of your business (and some of the middle phases too), you’re going to say yes to clients that you will later wish you’d said no to. It can be difficult to recognize if a client is one of your ideal clients, especially when you don’t have much information in the beginning. Sometimes, a contract will be in place and you’ll need to get through the project. But if the relationship is longer-term, you may want to consider firing your client.

HOW TO FIRE YOUR CLIENT IN THREE EASY STEPS

1. Be nice. You might be tempted to complain in your email or on the phone. Don’t. Gather yourself and do all you can to end the relationship in a professional and pleasant way.

2. Explain that the relationship is not ideal. You don’t need to go into great detail. Simply explain that you’re unable to serve this client in a way that is beneficial for both you and your client.

3. Give your client options. If you’re unable to continue working with them, provide a list of two or three others in a similar line of work whom they may want to contact.

It’s not easy, but firing non-ideal clients can free up space for those ideal clients to come your way.

About brandi

Brandi is a digital strategist, website developer, and founder of Alchemy+Aim, a company that helps entrepreneurs and business owners elevate their online presence and enhance their digital experience. Her academic background in theatre, philosophy and physics was the perfect foundation for launching her business, where she’s worked with Brené Brown, Laverne Cox, Judy Smith, and other notable thought leaders since 2013. She is an advocate for using technology in ways that humanize, connect and serve people as well as for asking deeper philosophical questions and teaching others to think more broadly about impact when they create, particularly in STEAM fields.

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Credits

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.