At the start of our careers as Virtual Assistants, most of us struggled to fill our businesses with clients. (I did!) At that time it seemed implausible to imagine that the day might come when we might want to let a client go.
Similarly, 5 years ago we watched in awe as Tom proposed to Katie atop the Eiffel Tower and a multi-million dollar wedding celebration was held in a castle in Scotland. None of us could have imagined that a short 5-years later the marriage would dissolve and we would once again be glued to our TV screens soaking up the Hollywood Gossip.
The truth is, we all have those clients we ‘love’ to work with and those who make us ‘cringe’ every time their name pops up in our inboxes…there will likely come a day when you feel the need to ‘divorce’ one of your clients.
Perhaps you took them on out of desperation, offering a ridiculously low rate. Perhaps the projects they are offering you are now outside of your niche market – and not bringing in the level of revenue you expect. Or perhaps they are just one of those proverbial ‘thorns-in-your-side’ who demand too much, question every invoice, offer little instruction, constantly change their minds or treat you like employee rather than a business owner. Whatever the reason you need to let go of your client – here’s what we can learn from Tom and Katie:
1. Have a plan in place. (Tom and Katie had a pre-nup agreement that basically outlined their split before they ever got married…and Katie worked carefully with lawyers before announcing her plans to leave Tom) Do a little research and decide what you will say to your client before you speak with them. Keep it professional, avoid blame and give them valid reasons why you are unable to take on their next project.
2. Do it quickly. (Were you stunned how fast the divorce went through?) Life is short – don’t continue to burden yourself by working with a bad client who drains your energy. By making a quick break you are opening up space to focus on the clients you love, or to take on a new & better client who will add more joy and more revenue to your life.
3. Avoid drama. (The Tom-Kat divorce appears to have happened rather smoothly, as far a celebrity break-ups go. With neither of them playing the blame game or speaking to the media they have managed to keep it fairly low-key). No need to burn your bridges…when you have to let a client go make sure they understand it is the direction of your business or your schedule that is changing and not the fact that they are “the most annoying client ever”. It is important to keep your own professional reputation intact.