It might sound like strange advice to tell you that you are going to have to fire your clients as you grow your online business, but it’s absolutely imperative that you consider this as serious advice. In fact, I tell many people that one of the reasons that I have been able to grow a freelance writing business with six figures in revenue is because I have fired clients and understood the negative qualities about past clients that I don’t want to see in future ones.
Let me tell you about a couple of clients I fired:
- The guy who left me a threatening voicemail that he’d steal my identity because he refused to pay his invoice and I removed my content from his website.
- A client who texted me at 9 P.M and demanded a response immediately.
- A client who simply asked for too many edits on blog posts that were already perfect.
- A client who waited 60 days to pay invoices.
- A client who paid me for the work, said it was great, then emailed a week later that it was “unusable.”
Over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of clients.
I’ve also fired at least twenty.
And here’s the magic: those firing decisions propelled me to the next level.
Getting Clients=Key, But Firing Them is Powerful, Too
Most people in the online business game are focused on helping you land clients. No doubt that’s an important part of your ability to make money, enjoy your business and take it to the next level. But when you are focused only on landing clients, you might miss out on the opportunities associated with narrowing down who your ideal clients are and who you don’t want to work with.
I would argue that knowing who you don’t want to work with is just as, if not more important, than knowing who you do want to work with. Having an ideal client avatar gives you a perspective of qualities to look for, when you identify a new client. In your initial emails or conversations with a new client, you can determine whether or not they meet the marks for being an ideal client for you. If they are too far off the reservation, you might consider working with them because it will give you additional opportunities to learn a new skill or to determine if a different type of project is more up your alley or something you’d like to add to your menu of services. However, if you bring this client on and they are difficult, don’t pay on time, refuse to give clear directions or constantly harass you with emails, you need to consider firing them.
Another reason that you might consider firing a client is because they may refuse to comply with you raising your rates. It is normal for freelancers to raise their rates on a regular basis, say once or twice a year, but we tend to get in a habit as online business owners of keeping people who have previously been paying a very low rate at that same level. It is difficult to approach the situation because of the fear you have of losing that client. Now one thing you should know is that you probably will lose clients when you raise your rates. It’s just a given.
Some people are most likely not going to want to stay with you when your rates are higher because they are focused on the price and not what you bring to the table. This can mean bad things for your business anyways. Sometimes I have purposely fired clients without firing them by raising my rates because I knew that they would not pay the higher rates. There are only two things you are in control of as an online business owner. Your energy and your time.
Why Fewer Better Clients is Always Better
If you give them away to every single person who offers you business, you’ll end up with more headaches and honestly, less money because you only have so much time to go around. When you are spending all your time dealing with projects or clients you don’t like, you’ll end up feeling more frustrated and wanting to give up. Now you should only fire a client when there is no possible way to resolve this situation.
When to Cut the Cord
If the client has been rude or unprofessional to you, it might be appropriate for you to fire that client. If they have refused to pay you your new higher rates, again, this could be an indication of firing a client. Now, I’ll share some of my personal perspective here as it relates to firing clients. I don’t have the time to work with difficult people. In order to grow my business, I need to keep my energy and vibration high while also being able to make money. That means I have to be really choosy about who I work with. In the beginning of my freelance writing business, I accepted many clients. Pretty much anybody who wanted to work with me. However, I found that the clients who paid the least and offered the least potential for business or personal growth were also the most annoying. That meant that over time I phased them out of my business.
I love waking up and being able to say that I have a roster of only ideal clients. It is not easy to fire a client, but you can do so without getting too many emotions involved. What I mean by this is simply sharing that your business is taking a new direction and that your ability to provide services for them will conclude on a particular date. Give them two to four weeks’ notice, so they have the opportunity to identify someone else to fill that role, but do not get your emotions involved.
The client may even try to push back and keep you, but if you know in your gut that it is not the right choice, then stand firm on your decision. I once had a client that I tried to fire twice. Each time she talked me back into working with her and promised that things would be better. But the truth was that the conditions never improved. Ultimately, I stood my ground and gave her an end-by date for ordering the last of her content and then I successfully moved on. I will also tell you that every single time I have fired a client, it has been the right decision and another better client has popped up almost immediately.