It’s that client or customer who has to be coaxed to pay up or even refuses to pay up after they have received the benefit of your services or products.
What about the one who disappears for months and comes back with emergency projects that needed to be done like yesterday.
Perhaps it’s the customer or client who traps you in a circuitous game of bargaining and bean counting or promises that if you provide a service or product or hours of your time for free, they’ll give you a big contract in the future.
How about the one who does not know what they want but they know what they do not want?
Choosing between revenue and peace of mind can be a tough one, especially if you are a new entrepreneur and every penny you can bring in is important.
Let’s first be clear. The vast majority of customers and client’s are great. I’m extremely privileged to work every day with clients who are amazing and who are a joy to work with. In addition, as a general rule, if a customer or client is not completely satisfied with your product or service then it’s generally not their fault. You need to look at your own processes and the customer experience you are creating because it’s likely to be a problem caused by you that you can rectify.
Yet, a few clients and customers can be sources of such great obstacles that the growth of your business is threatened. It sounds counter-intuitive to let go of some clients or to simply say ‘no’. But, you would be surprised by just how much progress you could make if you kept those who are a good fit and let go of those who are not. This is certainly not a topic many people talk about – after all, isn’t all business good business?
Here’s why you need to nip the bad-fit customers and clients at the bud to make leeway for the growth of your business:
Taking on customers or clients who are not a good fit ultimately takes up your precious time, requiring you to close the door to new and better-suited clients.
Its simple math: The more problematic the client, the more time you spend working around their issues and the less time you focus on business strategy.
If you feel stagnated and your business is not on the ideal growth trajectory, it could be time to reassess you client base to see if some projects and clients are not in alignment with your goals.
Is the work you are doing or the services you are providing for your clients in line with your brand and your organizational goals and values? If not, you risk going too deep and deviating so far away from your vision. This will certainly stifle your business growth.
It is very tempting to take on all sorts of work in an effort to somehow maximize revenue. But the problem with a scattered approach to business is that it actually keeps you from attaining solid goals and the vision that espouses your company.
You need to think long term: What do you want to be known for? What do you want you brand to be associated with?
This kind of approach allows you to separate the clients and customers that fit your vision from those that do not support that vision, even if they are paying a good sum for the product or services you are providing.
Here’s the thing: the quality of the customers and clients you have will determine the quality of your network. And, your network is everything in business.
Ultimately, the wrong clients and customers will recommend you to their ilk or they will not help you grow your network at all.
On the contrary, the best-fit clients, those who are in complete alignment with your goals and values almost always recommend other good clients your way. As a result, your network will flourish with top notch, long-term customers and clients.
It is the domino effect at work.
Have you ever taken on a client or started selling a product or service even when you did not have the capacity and structure in place for their type of work and so you have to flip your business upside down just to accommodate this new work?
Talk about chaos!
Yes, you do need to have a healthy appetite for taking risk as an entrepreneur. However, you also need to think keenly about the long-term impacts of putting in additional, unplanned structures and resources just for this one customer or client.
So for you, do the benefits of the new work outweigh the costs of hiring a new graphic designer, editor, marketer or new writer or other employee when generally your business does not require these new hires?
Are you prepared to take on the losses that you may accrue if things do not work out with your new customer or client for whom you had to change everything in your business?
Cash flow is the heartbeat of a successful business. A major reason why most businesses fail within the first three years of launching is problems with cash flow.
You can see that bad-fit clients and customers, no matter how much the contract amount is, increase the chances of your business collapsing.
Think about it: When all those late payments or bad debts accumulate, you would be too cash strapped to make payroll and to invest back into the business. The result is you and your team will be demotivated, productivity will decline, you may take on more debt and eventually business growth will be just a trickle.
Let go of clients who are chronically late at paying. Never work again with a client who fails to pay you for your services (this goes without saying). Never work for a client who wastes hours of your time expecting advice or services for free in return for a promised or implied future order. It could also be time to cut off those whose budgets are too low for the work you are providing.
It makes sense to have perfect-fit clients to whom you give your best and who reward you commensurately, than to have customers and clients who distract you from your business goals. It is a difficult choice to make, more so for customers and client who are not necessarily ‘bad’ but are just not in alignment with your values and vision. But it is a choice you must make to put your business on a steady growth trajectory.