Breaking-up is one of the hardest elements of being a business owner, especially when you are a service provider.
It might be that your clients needs are not exactly your strengths or the work you desire to do anymore. It might be that your workload has become so much that you have to prune away the non-ideal clients. Often it boils down to the person you desire to be in the business and what you know would be best for the business is not a match to your clients work style or vision.
These are hard decisions. T stay and fight through, simply because you need the money or to release and believe another more ideal client will come.
I have listened to dozens of Online Business Managers battle this very quandary over the past 6 years. When they share with me how they have over-communicated what they need to be successful, when they have pushed for automation to minimize mistakes, when they have had the boundary conversation time after time, but nothing really changes. The client is set in their way, it is who they are, and even if they want to change, they simply are not doing it.
So what to do? Continue in a relationship that causing you the highest level of stress, causing you to know longer enjoy your service… no I don’t think that is the right answer.
But here’s the thing… dump and running isn’t the right answer either. This is what we hear from the other side, the business owners… so-in-so just disappeared. Nothing is more frustrating than hearing that someone disappeared and left a client high and dry. Regardless of if you like them, are mad at them, or if they just suck and it is truly all their fault… be of the integrity to ensure the business is not ‘robbed’ and their paying clients do not suffer because you decide to break-up.
In a marriage with a child, when the end comes it is vital that the child is of the highest importance through out the ending of that relationship… in this scenario the business is the child.
Here are a few tips for amicably breaking-up:
1. Always take the it’s ‘me not you’ approach.
Here is why, you will not change that person on your way out the door. Who they are is who they are, if it wasn’t a good fit for you so be it, that doesn’t necassarily mean they are wrong it just means it wasn’t a good fit for you. A few starters for this conversation would be: “I have learned the value of working with ideal clients, and you need XYZ in your services and those are really not my strengths and I don’t feel I am the best person to support you at this time.” or “Based on the conversations we have had about the differences between us I feel the best thing for me to do is get out of the way so you can find and hire someone who will be a better match for you and your business needs” or “My business is going in a different direction and I am no longer offering XYZ services“.
The great thing is it is rare when working as a virtual support profession that we have the opportunity to make it solely about us… when you are breaking up that is a great time to just make it about what you need without the ‘throwing shade’ as my teen would call it, on how they did it wrong.
2. Always process out what is needed for the business before you leave
Ensure the next person who comes into that business will have a better chance of success than you did. We have a motto we leave a business better than we found it ALWAYS! No exception… this is just good business, good character and good karma. I am not talking about teaching folks how to work Infusionsoft or set up WP sites.. but if there are key processes for social media, program management, launch management that are recurring tasks you cover… then ensure the next person is set with covering those areas… again it’s about ensuring the business is still supported in the break up.
3. Always offer 1 week to connect with the new person coming on
Offering a hand of support to the new person is just decent and for the love of all things holy… do not vomit all your issues with this client onto that new person… give them the chance to find out who the person is, The things that are an issue for you might not be an issue for them. Either offer an hour to hop on the phone or be willing to give some email support if they need it.
In the heart of service you can leave a relationship with the same grace you started it. I encourage you to do just that.. after all, you will simply feel better about you 🙂