For the love of your business

3 Signs It May Be Time to ‘Break Up’ With a Client

Business Finances / Legal Agreements / Setting Boundaries / Sticky Situations

If you’ve ever had clients who were more trouble than they were worth, you know how distressing such toxic relationships can be. It can be difficult to drop a client, especially if finances are tight, but sometimes the best thing you can do is to break off the relationship.

It’s important to remember that not every client is actually valuable. There are some that you’d be better off having never done business with at all. If you’ve experienced one or more of the following issues with your clients, this is a red flag that you should seriously consider letting them go.

1. Late payments
In most cases, having a client make one or two late payments is a simple oversight, rather than a blatant attempt to avoid paying you. In such situations, a quick email or phone call should be enough to resolve the issue.

However, if failing to pay on time becomes more than the occasional slip-up, you should consider ending the relationship. Just think about what would happen if you paid your team a few weeks, or months, late. They’d probably quit—and with good reason.

One way to avoid late-payment issues is to include specific terms in your agreements outlining your payment schedule and detailing penalties and/or other methods of recourse for delayed payments. In some cases, you might require clients to pay upfront or put down a deposit before starting. But no matter what, you must require ALL clients to sign a sales contract—including specific terms of payment—before you do any work.

A Family Business Lawyer™ can assist you in creating solid agreements to help ensure that late payments never become anything more than a minor oversight.

2. Not being paid enough
It’s absolutely vital to get paid the appropriate amount for your work. Yet far too many entrepreneurs have an unhealthy relationship with money. This can lead you to undervalue your own time, energy, and attention when it comes to making money. As a result, you may feel uncomfortable, or even guilty, for charging clients the rates you actually deserve.

Much of this “money dysmorphia” can be traced back to ingrained fears and beliefs that have negatively conditioned your views about the role that money plays in your life. If you don’t face these false beliefs, it can wreck your health, business, and relationships—particularly your relationships with clients.

By appropriately valuing your work, you project confidence in both your business and yourself, which clients will respect. Moreover, keeping even a few low-paying clients can not only impact your bottom line, it can also wreak havoc on your self-esteem. This can cause your passion to dwindle, your quality of work to suffer, and eventually manifest in professional and personal burnout.

Family Business Lawyers® have been specifically trained to help you develop a healthy relationship with money. Using the highly successful Money Map to Freedom program, they’ll show you how you can take back your non-renewable resources of time, energy, and attention and create all the money you need to live a life of true freedom. A life in which you’ll never feel uncomfortable asking clients to pay you what you’re truly worth.  

3. Scope creep
You’ve undoubtedly had clients who want you to go above and beyond the amount of work outlined in your agreement. At first, they might ask for small changes every now and then. But before you know it, you’re doing all kinds of extra work on every one of their projects, which is not only highly unfair to you, but to all of your other clients, as well.

You should seriously reconsider your relationship with such clients—but don’t break things off right away. Clients who ask you to do extra work aren’t always malevolent. In fact, if you set a precedent that you’re willing to do more than you’re getting paid for and never say anything, what reason do they have to stop? They’re getting an incredible bargain!

Recognize your clients’ need for additional work, and ask them to pay for it. If you sever the relationship without ever asking, you could needlessly lose a loyal client, who would be more than happy to pay you whatever you request. Of course, if they’re not willing to pay for the extra work—or at least stick to what’s in the contract—it’s time to end things.    

Respect yourself and the rest will follow
While it can be painful to sever ties with problem clients, as with ending any dysfunctional relationship, you’ll be better off in the long run. You can always find new clients, but you can never recover the time, energy, and attention wasted by staying with a lousy client any longer than necessary.

A Family Business Lawyer™ can support you when dealing with such dysfunctional business relationships. Whether it’s creating airtight sales agreements, assisting you in overcoming your subconscious anxieties over money, or helping convince wayward clients to pay you what they’ve agreed upon, you can count on us to always have your back. Schedule a visit with a Family Business Lawyer™ today to get started with a LIFT Planning Session.

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