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There are so many advantages to being your own boss. But a clear disadvantage is that you have to do everything including the non-favorable task of parting ways with a difficult client.
When I first launched my freelance business as a proofreader, I was desperate for clients and dying to show my skills and start earning that extra income! So I welcomed any work that came my way.
I gained some great clients and some not-so-great ones. And in my search to grow my business, I put up with a really, not-so-great client. I dealt with it for far longer than I should’ve.
As I look back on it, there were significant signs I ignored that we weren’t a good fit. I wanted my business to succeed and somehow I got it into my head that losing this client would cause a major hit to my business — which it didn’t!
First impressions do matter
It should’ve clued me in that this working relationship with her was not going to be a good one. Our first meet via email left a bad taste in my mouth. My first interaction with her involved me being super friendly and excited for her business while hers was almost dismissive bordering on insulting. She also deemed my rates to be too high when I knew my rates were right in line with my niche and industry.
You should always go with your instincts, and if they’re telling you this isn’t going to go well, more often than not, they’re correct. Looking back now, I had those instincts and just pushed them to the side.
Although it can happen that a bad first impression can turn into a great one, that’s quite a rarity, I think.
Running your business
I started my own freelance business so I could be my own boss and control how my business would function, so it was ironic that I was allowing this one client to dictate how I ran my business. She refused to follow my policies and the rules I set forth. I bill twice a month and her refusal to adhere to this or come up with a compromise had me on edge a lot.
Now I’m not saying that if you were my client, I would refuse to change my rules, but I am more than willing to work toward a reasonable compromise.
The struggle you feel today will offer the strength you need tomorrow.
Making you feel unappreciated
No one likes to feel like the work they’re doing is meaningless. I don’t care if you’re at the bottom of the food chain or the top, we all want to feel appreciated. In my field, proofreaders are not the highest on the food chain, but this doesn’t mean our work is any less valuable.
When you’ve spent a ton of time on a job/project and feel great about the work you do, only to have her question everything, you start to doubt yourself. Now I’m confident to know my skills were top notch, and actually, she was insulted that I was too thorough. Of course, good communication is essential, but when you work with someone refusing to give you guidance, you do your best and hope for the best.
When you work with someone who treats your work like it doesn’t matter, it makes you feel awful and can have you doubting the value of work, skills, and your business.
Yet, another clear sign this was a not a healthy working relationship.
You know best
At the end of the day, it’s your business and you should run it the way you want to. Don’t let anyone tell you how it should be run.
And keep in mind that losing the bad ones only means there’s room for more of the good ones. Losing one or a few bad ones are not going to hurt your business. Actually, it will allow more room and time for amazing clients!
Parting ways with her allowed me to find new clients who were amazing. It allowed me time to grow and nurture my relationship with them. I love them, and they pay on time! They treat me with respect, and I bend over backward to deliver on my promises — even if this means staying up later (sometimes really late!) to complete jobs and meet deadlines. I’m happy to do it.
At the end of the day, it’s your business, and you have to do what you think is best. No one should be able to dictate your decisions but you. If someone is making you feel devalued, then it’s time to let them go.
If you’re questioning parting ways with your client and really don’t see a working relationship together any further, cut them loose and focus your efforts on finding new clients!
What about you? Have you had to deal with a difficult client in your business? What was it and how did you handle it? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
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