When Should I Disengage?
It seems counter-intuitive to actively disengage clients. You’ve worked hard to recruit them and probably spent time and money finding them in the first place. If you want a business that serves your dreams, though, this is a skill that you’re going to need to get comfortable with. Fast.
If you’ve been in business for any length of time I’m sure you’ve felt it. The clients who felt so right before now feel all wrong. You once loved working with them, but suddenly they make you feel as though your head might actually explode.
Clients can feel a bit like old shoes. It was so difficult to find a pair that you loved. You took the time to break them in. Now they feel really comfortable, but they let in a little when it rain. The sole is coming off a bit. You’ve had the heel repaired more times than you care to remember and then you put them in the cupboard. You don’t love them any longer. You hardly wear them but you can’t bear to part with them. They feel safe. Alas, your cupboard can only hold so much and if you want a new pair that suit your life now you’re going to need to make a hard decision.
Sometimes, in order to cultivate the business that fulfils your dreams, you need to have a clear out. Some clients were once a great fit, but that time has long gone. Maybe they’ve got a bit too needy. Perhaps they have grown their business and it’s now not what you love doing. Even worse, maybe they’ve been listening to the bloke down the pub!
Whatever the reason, you need to have a cull to give yourself room to grow.
It’s easy to believe this if you’re working at capacity, but what if you only have a few clients?
Often, it’s even more important at this stage. When you’re trying to grow your business the last thing you need is a client that saps all of your energy. Or someone who takes up all of your time on firefighting. You can fall into the trap of thinking that money is money. Beggars can’t be choosers, right?
Wrong. This is the time that you need to be picky. You need the momentum to keep going at this point in your businesses life. You can’t have that if you’re playing mummy to rubbish clients, even if you do think they’re paying the bills.
At least once a year you should be going through your clients and ranking them from A to D. A are the amazing clients that you love to work with and D are the ones that make you want to hide under the desk every time they call.
Annually disengaging 10% of your clients, starting with the D’s will let you spend more time recruiting A clients. Clients that you really love to work with. I’m sure you’re asking yourself “What if I don’t find that A client?” my question to you would be “What if you can’t find them because you’re busy dealing with D clients?”
No one starts out life as a D client. It’s just something that happens. Often so gradually that you don’t even notice. What if you wake up one morning and your business is full of them? Will you still love what you do?
Clearing out the dead wood regularly will allow the new to blossom.