All client relationships can go through highs and lows, but that doesn’t always mean it is a bad fit. However, the wrong partnership or client can be damaging to your business and your brand and can drain you mentally, emotionally, and financially. If you have tried everything in your power to reconcile any mishaps that you may be struggling with, it might be time to move on. But how do you know if, and when, it's time to part ways with a client?
Here are four surefire signs that it's time to move on:
1. You are not being paid for the work you are doing or have done. As a business, you are entitled to being paid for your services- and hopefully you have a contract saying so. If your client is not paying you or is not paying on time, it may be time to start rethinking your relationship with them.
One Woman Shop Prevention Tip: Consider putting into place a late payment fee in your contract to ward off late payments in the future. Also, send personal emails and (gasp) even consider using the phone. This is often much more effective than sending automatic notifications through your invoicing software.
2. You don’t trust your client or the client is being dishonest. One of the key components of a great relationship that will produce the best outcomes is trust. If you can’t trust a client that you are working with, it is not a good fit and time to shake hands and move forward separately.
One Woman Shop Prevention Tip: In addition to your written contract, considering having a business Code of Conduct or Company Philosophies page that you direct potential clients to. Oftentimes, potential bad clients will opt out of working with you in the first place if they understand the value you place on integrity.
3. Your opinions are not being heard. Both you and your clients are going to have ideas, both good and bad, and it is only polite and professional to listen to the ideas and give them the credit they are due. If your client has decided they no longer want to take your opinions and expertise into consideration, this may not be the best working relationship.
One Woman Shop Prevention Tip: Consider addressing this issue with your client in the following way: Hi so and so- I really enjoy working with you, but I am finding it hard to make progress on xyz because it seems like you are unwilling to hear my ideas and opinions on abc. I have extensive experience with this exact issue in my past client work and I would love a chance to show you how we can make this work together. Do you mind if I take a week to put my ideas into action and then we can reconvene to discuss the results?
4. Your client is disrespectful. You should not have to tolerate any type of disrespect from a client. So, if your client lacks professional courtesy when communicating with you, you owe it to yourself to part ways.
One Woman Shop Prevention Tip: Frustration is often the result of miscommunications, so look back over your emails to ensure that you were as clear as you could be with your client. Any mistake on your part doesn't excuse their rudeness, but you can use the situation to learn to communicate more clearly and set better expectations in the future.
I do believe it is always best to try to discuss any issues you may be having with your client before jumping to the conclusion of parting ways, but if you have exhausted all your resources in trying to come to a solution and that hasn’t helped your situation, then you know it is time to, politely and professionally, wish them luck and say goodbye.