Before becoming a happy freelance writer, I was a miserable lawyer. One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard about running a law firm applies equally well to any small business, freelancer, or solo enterprise.
Every year, you should fire one client.
I know that sounds radical. Most of us hustle and grind to get as many clients as possible. Many of us have never-ending anxiety about what’s going to happen if we lose a client. Often, we don’t even raise our prices because we are so worried about turning off clients.
Why would you plan on firing a client each year?
When I first heard the advice, the speaker explained that the best gift you could ever give the staff at your law firm is to let them pick a client to fire.
There are clients that simply are a pain. They take up too much time and they suck energy from everyone in the office.
I no longer have a staff. For the past six years, I have been the only person in my business. But, I still follow this advice. Each year I fire at least one client. It makes my business better and it makes me happier.
There are three reasons why firing one client a year is an incredible practice for your business and your mental health. If you have other members of your team the benefits of this practice are magnified.
One: Limited Bandwidth
You only have so much time. Right now, you probably already feel like you are working at maximum capacity. You simply don’t have any more bandwidth.
However, you also have at least one client that you don’t like very much. We all do. You may not dislike them, but they’re not your favorite client.
You probably procrastinate their work more than the work of any other clients.
Maybe they pay you a slightly lower rate or are a holdover from a time when you had a different focus.
Perhaps, you just don’t like the tone of their communications.
You have somebody in your business that is taking up your time. Because you are at maximum capacity, you don’t have room for a great client that will bring you joy and higher profits.
Firing a client you don’t enjoy will give you more bandwidth so you can land a better client.
The truth is you have outgrown one or more of your clients. It’s not fair to the client or to you for you to continue to hold on to them.
Your skills have improved. You have learned different techniques. Some of your clients are not ready to take advantage of the new opportunities you are now ready to offer.
If you keep working for clients that don’t pay you what you’re worth or whose work doesn’t excite you, you will not do your best work for them.
They need someone who will love working for them. Because that’s going to show in the end product. You need to have clients that you love working with. Let go of the client that you have outgrown. You will both be better off. You will find another client who pays you better and that you enjoy working for more. Your client will find another professional better suited to their needs.
Just like a plant cannot reach its full potential if you keep it in too small of a pot, you need to allow yourself the room to grow into your full potential.
Three: Success Is About More Than Money
Success is about constructing a business that makes you happy that you leap out of bed because you’re so excited to get to work. If you have clients that are getting in the way of that, you need to fire them.
Most of us don’t want to fire clients because we are afraid. We are afraid of letting go of a regular source of income. We are afraid of admitting our true value and of exploring the full extent of our talents.
But, having clients that do not bring joy to your life is hurting your mental health, professional growth, and financial success. You cannot provide the same level of service and creativity to someone who makes you miserable as you can to someone who brings you joy.
Build a business you love by firing clients that don’t excite you.
Once you start the practice of firing one client a year you may find yourself getting a little hooked on the freedom it gives you. You will find it much easier to get rid of clients that are not a perfect fit for your business. Sometimes you may end up eliminating two or three clients a year.
Learning how to stop working with clients that are not perfect for your business will also help you attract more of the right kinds of clients in the first place.
This year give yourself the gift you deserve and fire a client.