You’re Fired! When An Entrepreneur SHOULD Fire A Client

I fired a client this week.

I cannot remember the last time I had to do this, but it was for MY own good.

Usually, when I have new clients, I can’t wait to begin our work together and I look forward to each of our conversations and the work that I can do to move them forward. Occasionally, however, I override my good sense and instincts and select an individual to work with that I think has big opportunities ahead but may not resonate with me individually. In this case, I should have listened to my gut.

Has that ever happened to you – you fail to listen to those little voices alerting you that you are going off the right path? Has there ever been a time that the red flags are flapping so strongly that they are making a veritable breeze – yet you still go ahead anyway? Or is that just me?

Because the truth is, I had some bad vibes from the very first meeting – the guy never cracked a smile and he seemed overly concerned about what I was going to do for him rather than sharing his excitement about what his plans were that I could help him with. The next two meetings weren’t much better but it was only this week – before our 4th meeting – that I finally woke up to what was going on – literally.

On the night before our bi-weekly meeting, I woke up at 4AM and was unable to get back to sleep. I lay there for awhile wondering what was wrong when it came to me – I just didn’t want to work with this guy. When I sought to put my finger on why, I realized that in all of the time we had worked together he had only said thank you once.

This despite the fact that in a few weeks of working together, he had gained complete clarity of an umbrella brand, a book title and a set path for moving forward to establish himself as a thought leader in his niche. We had honed his pitch, crafted his LinkedIn, built his website, written and re-written a compelling book proposal and more. I had introduced him to any number of authors, publishers and agents and yet, his attitude always seemed to be, ‘what had I done for him lately.’

Who wants to work with people like that?

I am not a person who needs constant approbation and cheerleading for my efforts, but on the other hand, I absolutely believe that if people are a part of your success, you should be sure to thank them on a regular basis.

One of my favorite clients that I have been working with for five years still takes the time to send me thank you notes. That’s more like it!

I know I am taking a risk writing a blog post like this about a client, so you’ll notice that I have been very careful to hide all of the specifics. But it is so frustrating to me when I see leaders undermine their own success just by overlooking the simple courtesies or because of their style in working with others.

I knew I had made the right decision when I pointed out the disconnect to my client and his only comment was, “You have been of use to me.” Seriously? Of use to you? Wow!

(Interestingly, when I told my assistant what I had done, she told me that she hadn’t liked this guy either. Note to self – check with Wendy before I say yes to any new client! During even the simplest interactions – paying invoices, setting appointments – that a client does with her, they tend to show their true colors. The best leaders know that how they treat assistants is equally as important as how they treat their best friend.)

So, note to self: trust your gut and spend your time only with those people who are aligned to a big vision and happy to have an equal partner on their journey to get there.

Stay away from clients who are more interested in the money they can make by becoming thought leaders or more excited about having access to the biggest opportunities in a selfish way rather than being of service to those around them.

Being of service – that is the core essence of being a thought leader, in my mind.

My commitment: I will fill my calendar with people who have big ideas who are in alignment with creating a better world for all. If you are one of those kinds of people, I hope you’ll be in touch.

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