Breaking up isn’t very nice. Even if it’s done under the most amicable of circumstances. It's human nature to feel a bit shit about being rejected. Ending a relationship with a client can feel the same.
When I began freelancing I pretty much took any job that came my way. I hadn’t planned my new solo enterprise very well and certainly hadn't saved enough money to be selective about who I worked with. I was in survival mode. Any job, big or small, I’d take on with the client controlling most of the perimeters like price, timeline and deliverables. It’s inevitable that repeatedly working with the same clients starts to solidify these terms of engagement. It's easy to get locked into the same arrangement yet the idea of losing one of these clients is terrifying!
The reality is that our clients relationships are not life sentences. Blair Enns writes (quite obviously) in The Win without Pitching Manifesto that clients come to us in a time of need (new company requiring branding), we generally solve the most pressing problems at the start of the engagement (design the logo). Over time the nature of the work slides towards the tactical end of the project (producing deliverables) and we go from design consultants to suppliers. Eventually you WILL part ways - only variables are time and the point of departure.
He’s right. Nothing lasts forever and how we deal with and respond to the ‘break up’ is key to moving forward. While the gut reaction is to panic about loss of income or no longer meeting the clients expectations we should embrace the natural progression of the relationship. I want a successful business that will plan for this turnover and see it as an opportunity to work on new projects with new clients.
Easier said than done perhaps but acknowledging this transition in the relationship is important. To understand that things aren’t going to be like this forever is necessary to remember especially when you are in the thick of it. Helping companies and entrepreneurs brand and launch their products or services is so incredibly exciting! Everyone is bursting with the energy and ambition that comes from doing something bigger than yourself. It’s infectious and such a joy to be part of - it will eventually calm down though and then it's time to move on. Being able to navigate this well is what will position you as the expert.
My video of the week is related but not directly to the above conversation. It’s about asking for more money for your work. It's really the first step in getting the clients that are willing to treat you as an expect rather than a service provider.