Kentucky Chapter of the Grant Professionals Association is hosting its Regional Conference today at Home of the Innocents. We’ve had a great turn out, and the speakers are killing it! So much fun!
I was thinking it had been since last summer that I wrote. Actually, It was October! So, not the worst blogging record ever? The last several months have been difficult, personally. I was helping my family care for my mother who eventually passed away early this year; my business expanded, then shrunk, then did it again; and I was meeting the daily needs of my family at home – like people do, every day. All this to say simply that my mind has been on things other than my business and I’m so grateful I had the freedom to be present where I needed to be.
I’m learning that owning a business comes with as many restraints as it does freedoms. I’m also learning that “problematic clients” can add unnecessary stress to business owners who are trying to keep things afloat.
“How do I fire a client?”
That was the text I sent to a realtor friend of mine. My phone rang immediately. Mark said, “I’ll tell you exactly how you fire someone – YOU DON’T.”
Mark explained in his “my daddy always said” way that ‘one enemy will bring you down faster than 10 friends will bring you up’ or something like that. I could barely hear him over the anger ringing in my ears. Mark patiently explained that I was doing what no business owner should do: I was putting all of my eggs in one basket. I was relying too heavily on one small nonprofit. I don’t need to make an enemy of someone who will certainly have an influence on my professional reputation down the line. He was right. I was putting all my eggs in 2 or 3 baskets instead of focusing on all of my clients and their varied needs. Mark’s sage advice was to wait and fire a client for *real* reasons: like the person is so awful that you are unwilling to compromise yourself/your beliefs/your business, etc.
**Fast forward three weeks**
I learned an important lesson about business ownership recently – firing a client is not the end of the world.
“I hope I didn’t just set fire to my business.”
This was a text I sent to a colleague after I ended my first contractual relationship. Here’s the background: Client made an impossible demand (again). I set a simple and professional boundary (again). And he reacted like a toddler (again). So, I quit. And it was TERRIBLE. I felt awful. I was angry, scared, exhausted, and oddly empowered (empowered was on the bottom that first day, I assure you). I was torn over my love for the nonprofit and the profound dislike I had for the person running it. But I didn’t set fire to my business. My business will survive AND THRIVE – but I have to set the intention, the boundaries, and the goals for it. No one else will do that for me. Is it acceptable that a client took care of their own needs. Absolutely. Is it ok to be treated like a doormat? Absolutely not. There is much grey area between these two scenarios and finding my way through it will take time.
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