Happy 2018!

January offers a fresh start, a time when we make resolutions to do better, to be better. It’s also an opportunity to take stock of your business by asking three “W” questions:

Your business will evolve over time, as can a client’s needs, so what do you do when answers to these questions point to a client relationship that’s no longer working?

What would make you need to break up with a client?

Let’s face it: clients keep us in business. But sometimes, as in any relationship, it may be time to walk away. Breaking up is hard, especially when the other party contributes to your bottom line.

Consider this example:

Retail shop owner Claire hires marketing expert Sue to craft a strategy to increase the visibility of her store. Sue and Claire agree on objectives, budget, and schedule. Sue presents the plan to Claire, who gives her approval for Sue to proceed. Halfway through the execution of the plan, which is working as expected, Claire decides she wants to modify the approach, believing her new plan will magnify their results. As a professional marketer, Sue immediately sees issues with Claire’s adjustments and raises her concerns. Sue points out that not only will Claire’s strategy fail to achieve the agreed-upon objectives, it will also undermine the work they have done to-date. Sue tries unsuccessfully to reach a compromise with Claire, who insists that Sue move forward with executing her new (flawed) plan, with the expectation that it will produce amplified results. Sue is in a bind. Not only has her professional advice been ignored, but she knows that if she continues with Claire’s plan, it will not produce the desired outcomes, reflecting poorly on her.

Sue is clearly in a no-win situation, and her best option is to “break up” with Claire before her reputation is damaged. You may also need to break up with a client if:

How do you prepare for a break up?

Think of breaking up as pruning a shrub; you must cut off the old to allow new growth to flourish. These steps will walk you through what to consider prior to a breakup:

It’s time to break up. How do you do it?

Follow these guidelines to make your client breakup as smooth as possible:

After the breakup – what next?

Post-breakup is an excellent time for active self-reflection and recalibration. Ask yourself:

Breaking up with a client is a big step.  By “pruning the branches,” you’re allowing for more energy and focus on growth and creativity.  What you learn from the breakup may propel you onto greater things, so be optimistic! It is a new year, after all!