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Sometimes the customer is wrong, very wrong!

The start of the new year encourages many to reflect on the year that just passed, while anticipating their prospects for the year ahead. Depending on the individual this act could be a humbling experience, whereas for some this could be a great opportunity to drop the deadweight around them. Whether it is a relationship on the rocks, a dead-end job, or any other issue that causes unnecessary stress, it is important to acknowledge the signs if now is the right time to make a clean break.

In the capitalistic world we live in, the idea of dropping clients would be considered criminal; however, the very act could be beneficial in the long-run. For small business owners, the luxury of picking and choosing customers may not be available; therefore, it is crucial to strive towards maintaining a client base that is loyal and doesn’t create a lot of headaches. It may be difficult to know when your relationship with your client has soured. When you have reached a point that the relationship cannot be salvaged, it is time to let them go.

The following should be considered before dropping a client. The decision process may be a little more difficult if their business is a significant portion of your sales; however, clients come and go and there may be better clients just around the corner.

1. Does your client(s) occupy more of your time than you are able to bill?

Whether the work that is needed to be done exceeds their budget, they have been with you since the beginning and you are loyal to them (give them discounts/freebies), or they crossed the line from client to friend; the opportunity cost to keep these clients can be hurting your bottom line. Time is a valuable commodity that many often overlook. If you have a client that is taking up more time than you are able to successfully bill, it is time to either charge more or drop them.

2. Does your client(s) not acknowledge your work with positive feedback?

For freelance professionals this could be detrimental to one’s overall performance if their efforts are not acknowledged. Some may be content with receiving their pay on time; however, the majority that provides a service rely on¬†real time feedback on their work.¬†Without feedback it may be difficult to assess where you are able to add value to charge more for future clients.

3. Does your client(s) continuously pay late? Would you consider them a delinquent account?

When you are self-employed, you are more likely to have a stronger stomach than an employee, to wait a few extra business days to receive payment; however, it is not a long-term solution to continuously be paid late. If you have clients that are always strapped for cash you may want to consider reducing hours until their situation improves; or just drop them to attain clients who are more financially responsible.

4. Does you client(s) hurt your image simply by association?

Some industries are smaller than others. Depending on the industry, retaining certain clients could worsen your ability to attain new clients. Understanding the industry that you are soliciting your business to is highly necessary. Another avenue to consider is social media, where a client’s posts and tags onto your pages could be more harmful than productive. How one conducts themselves online could affect their ability to grow their network.

5. Does your client(s) follow your advice?

Your services may not be a top priority to your clients; however, you’re the subject expert and such advice may be greatly beneficial for their daily operations. If you find yourself continuously repeating yourself, to the point that you don’t bother sharing your thoughts, it is time to make a break.

The longer the professional relationship, the more difficult the break may be; however, you may find yourself opening new doors much sooner than expected. Making a break should only be considered if it is clear that the relationship can’t be repaired and that there are known prospects to pursue.

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