I’ve done a ton over the years to make sure my clients are pre-qualified and a good fit. I’ve made sure my intake process alerts me to red flags in advance—and that there are rules, boundaries, contracts and deposits in place to weed out un-ideal clients and keep good clients on track. (I even created the Client Onboarding Toolkit which details my onboarding process since so many clients wanted to implement it for themselves).
The more I have chosen my clients carefully, the better my business has become. Overall, this has resulted in a lot of very wonderful client relationships.
But every now and then, it happens: a client relationship needs to end. And I need to “fire” someone respectfully.
Here’s the reality. Ultimately we all grow. And sometimes we outgrow certain relationships.
Perhaps the work no longer fits us. Maybe the client has crept into uncomfortable territory (because perhaps you’re giving them the leeway to take advantage). Or maybe you’re just needing to pursue something else.
I state my values right here on my website. One of my most important values is:
Work-life Balance: I work 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Don’t ask me to work on the weekends. And, I won’t ask you to do so either. I love my job, but at the end of the day, it’s just a job I do to create a better life for my family. I’m a mother and wife first, a web designer second. We will get along very well if you have a life outside of work too.
Since my biggest priorities are being a mom and a wife, I am constantly trying to maximize my work to support these priorities. My time is precious. (So is yours!) And sometimes, that means a relationship or project needs to end.
Because if I’m choosing to work with a client or in a situation that no longer serves me, I’m not choosing myself, my family or my business.
Most of the time, the client is a great person and it’s nothing personal!
Sometimes it’s even mutual. Maybe they’re realizing it’s not a good fit anymore either.
Having control of your business is the freedom we have as solopreneurs. And sometimes you’ve got to close one door to open another. Remember, nobody said being a successful freelancer was easy. But we all know it’s worth it.
If you need to fire someone (to improve your life or your business), here’s how you do it
- I need to end our working relationship.
- Here’s why (if you choose to explain—you don’t owe them an explanation):
- I’m cutting back on work to have more time with my family.
- I’m pursuing a different direction.
- This isn’t profitable for me anymore.
- My plate is full for the foreseeable future.
- I wish you all the best.
- Refer another resource if you feel like the client would be a good fit for them.
It may feel uncomfortable, but you’ll survive. Ultimately you will feel good about putting yourself and your business first—and it will be better for everybody involved. Compromising yourself only makes you less awesome, and you don’t deserve to be less awesome.
Want more on client relationships?
Check out my posts stop getting walked all over and how to push back with a client as well as my podcast with Ilise Benun on firing clients the right way.