How to Let Go of a Client That Is No Longer Working
At some stage in your freelancing business you’re probably going to have to let go of a client that is no longer working. In fact, don’t be surprised if this happens multiple times throughout your career.
Now, I’ve covered the topic of firing clients before, but in that instance, it was for clients that are a pain in the you know what. This time around I want to discuss clients that you’ve simply outgrown or that the relationship is no longer mutually beneficial. This tends to happen as you gain more clarity and vision for your business. It’s also a really good reason as to why there should always be a termination clause in contracts.
How to Know When You’ve Outgrown a Client
I’ve had a few instances in my business where I’ve needed to let go of a client because I’ve simply outgrown them. Or, perhaps, after a few months, I realize a particular project isn’t in line with the direction where I want to take my company. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of they’re not paying me enough.
This is a major part of moving from a freelancer mindset to that of a businessowner, you start getting more strategic and picky about the kinds of clients you take on and continue. In fact, some successful freelancers even encourage people to do the occasional client audit to make sure your client work and income is on par with what you want to be doing.
As Michelle Nickoliasen points out, not all clients are created equal. Even if they are generally good clients, it doesn’t mean you should be working with them because perhaps you’re putting in too much time for not enough money.
Of course, you can’t just send an email stating “Hey, you’re not paying me enough. I’m out.” Fortunately, firing a client also isn’t that complicated.
Step #1: Realize it’s just business.
Everyone understands that things are just business and there’s (hopefully) nothing personal when a client relationship doesn’t work out. It is what it is. Especially if you gave it a shot and realized later that it just wasn’t going to work for you. In other words, try not to give yourself any grief when you have to let go of a client.
Step #2: Send a polite email.
If there’s a termination clause in your contract (as there should be for times like this) then all you really have to do is send an email stating that due to unforseeable circumstances you are terminating the contract. You don’t necessarily have to write a three-page long email explaining why you have to let go of a client.
Final Step: Enjoy your freedom.
Part of the beauty of running your own business is that you can let go of a client when you need to. You don’t have a boss forcing you to take on a project you don’t want. Sometimes it’s just a matter of reminding ourselves that we as freelancers can actually do this now.