We’ve all been there. You needed the cash or the prestige tied to a new client – but they weren’t really a good fit for your services to begin with.
Once their payment hits your account, how do you motivate yourself to work with them? How do you reconcile with yourself potentially under-serving and feeling horrible about it?
I spoke with Natasha Vorompiova, business systems and operations expert, and founder of Systems Rock to get her thoughts on taking on clients you regret. Here are six tips for how to survive a possibly painful experience of working with someone you are not excited to work with.
1. Don’t beat yourself up over it.
Even if you’ve been in the same situation before, be kind to yourself. We all have to make compromises from time to time. There is nothing shameful about it. Just be clear about the reasons you took that client, remember your worth, and remind yourself that you have a choice in the matter. Next time you can choose not to be in this situation. This time, though, you might have to go through with it.
2. Reframe How You Look At The Situation
Focus on how working with this client is helping you. Those benefits could be widening your horizons, learning new things or figuring out your ideal work situation. Take this opportunity to practice establishing and preserving boundaries, clearly communicating expectations, and streamlining your client management system to ensure that working with this client doesn’t suck all of your time.
3. Practice Gratitude
Doing anything from a place of resentment will only create more resentment – for both you and your client. Don’t force yourself to be grateful for this client or situation, necessarily. Instead, regularly get yourself in the state of gratitude by thinking of something or someone that always brings a smile to your face or causes that warm and fuzzy feeling – curling up in an armchair with your favorite book, watching your child peacefully sleep, enjoying the aroma and taste of your favorite beverage…
4. Decide On And Stick To A Timeline
Create a plan and work it. How long you are going to hang on – will it be for the duration of the project or until you reach a certain milestone? Getting clear on what the endpoint looks like will carry you through. You are building a runway, not sacrificing your needs for the needs of this client for as long as the client keeps paying you.
5. Honor Your Original Goal
If you took this client to pay your tuition fees, make sure that you study. If you said yes to this client while you are testing your ideal offering or new marketing strategy for that offering, set aside time for testing. If you needed to update your equipment in order to fulfill orders faster, purchase the equipment. In other words, fulfill the reason why you needed to take on the client in the first place. Don’t lose sight of your original goal that reflects why taking on this client was worth it.
6. Tactfully Cancel The Contract
If you truly need to end the business relationship, do it with grace. Apologize for saying yes before considering all the factors to make your collaboration work. If you can, provide useful resources. Even better, recommend someone who might be a great fit for them. After all, your less-than-ideal client is someone else’s dream client. And now you have a chance to make that gift to them.
We don’t always get to work with our ideal clients. Sometimes it happens by accident; other times – by choice. The key is to learn something from every such encounter – from how to spot our non-ideal clients to how to make that partnership work, if necessary.
Regardless of the path, it’s an opportunity for growth as people and business owners.
By Stephanie Burns