As a person who’s been managing several businesses for a few years now, I’ve had my fair share of challenging clients and even losing some along the way. So I thought I should write this blog post about the lessons I’ve learned from losing clients…
In fact, 5 months ago when I was on the search for more clients who could use my Facebook Ads services, I put out a message, got a client AND then proceeded to lose the client. That experience made me sit back and think about WHY I lost the client, but not just that client, I tried to think back to all the clients I have lost and why I lost them, and think of the lessons I got from that/those experiences.
When this client and I started working together, things were okay at the initial stages when we both stuck to the original work agreement. As we continued, I kept getting more and more requests from this client, and the helper and experimenter in me wanted to fulfill these requests. These requests soon ventured out of the original scope of our work agreement, and I ended up spreading myself too thin…
The result? That process of doing things out of the initial agreement led me to losing this client because we both ended up making mistakes as the scope of work kept changing and getting bigger.
Although it was a sad experience, this motivated me to write this blog post for myself and for any one else who struggles with retaining clients because of scope creep or poorly set limits and expectations.
THE LESSONS I’VE LEARNED
Lesson 1: Don’t chase the money
Every business owner wants and needs money, right? You need money to run your business, support your personal goals, and grow the company. This is why finding clients for us is so important, especially during the early stages.
But the caveat to this is that if you pressure yourself too much to make money, you end up making hasty decisions. I’ve learned to stop accepting any ad hoc tasks just for the sake of charging more for the client because I don’t want to end up having too much on my plate.
Now I only accept tasks that I know I have a documented workflow for. That way, if I can’t do it myself (because I tend to procrastinate), I can pass it on to my team and make sure that everything gets done on time and to a high standard by someone other than me.
Lesson 2: Be aware of red flags
I believe that people that go far in life are those that learn from the mistakes of other people.
If you are in the business space, there are a whole bunch of resources out there where you read and learn about the mistakes of other entrepreneurs. It is important to learn from the mistakes of others so that you don’t experience the same challenges.
Naturally, we are all bound to commit our own mistakes and as we move forward. You need to take note of all the red flags you’ve seen to help you identify which clients wouldn’t be good for you to work with.
One red flag I’ve learned is that if a client is very demanding before they have even paid you, chances are once they pay, they will become even more demanding.
Here are some other things you should be aware of when looking for potential clients:
- How do they communicate with you?
- Do they respect you and your skills?
- Do they know their boundaries?
- Can they meet the expectations you set for the project?
As you get more clients, you will become more skilled in spotting these red flags. These will become indicators of whether you should move forward with a certain client or not.
Lesson 3: You Are The Expert, Be The Expert
You have been hired by your clients for a reason, and it is because you are more experienced in what you do than them. You are seen as the expert and the solution to their business problems.
So if your clients do something that will end up costing you more time, do not hesitate to make suggestions and set your boundaries. Remember that you can always earn wasted money back but you can’t take wasted time back.
Going back to the client I spoke about at the start of this blog post, even if I didn’t break the first two lessons, I experienced several hurdles because I wasn’t able to set boundaries.
Because this client didn’t know what they wanted and didn’t have a clear structure in place, we ended up having to face several hurdles that resulted in problems that needed to be addressed. I had the need to fulfill all their ad hoc requests which resulted in a lot of issues.
I learned to be the expert and set boundaries so that I can prevent these types of issues with my future clients. This meant that I let my clients know how I work and how I don’t work which demonstrated my expertise and set my foot down.
Prevention is always better than cure.
Lesson 4: Stay in your zone of genius
I know how tempting it can be to do more for your clients, especially because you want to make sure the client has a good experience with you, but 9 out of 10 times, you end up in a place where you’re going to do more than you’re being paid for. As a result, you might start to feel like you are being taken advantage of.
In my case, I ended up wandering away from my original service of Facebook ads and added a whole bunch of other things that I had no business adding to. If i had just been firm and stated what I can and can’t do, I would have been able to meet the needs of my clients properly.
You want to make sure that you and your client stick to the agreed contract, and if there are any additional tasks, only accept them if they are within your zone of genius and not something entirely different.
Lesson 5: Learn From Your Experiences
As I stated a while ago, it is important to learn from the mistakes of others. But what’s more valuable is when you learn from your own mistakes. And as you learn from these mistakes, you begin to improve your processes, put filters in place and setup identifiers to know when you’re about to make another mistake (for example, avoiding red flags).
When it comes to my own experiences, I now know that I should not deal with clients who need to make money yesterday with Facebook Ads. Why? Because in a way, they are chasing money (lesson #1) resulting in them not being in the right place mentally and not having the patience to properly set up the campaign and ads in the right manner.
In terms of learning from my mistakes, this ties back to lesson #2. It’s all about being aware of the red flags.
These red flags resulted in me creating a client expectation letter to set boundaries. The letter aided in ensuring better communication, being explicit about what I can and can’t do, and setting the expectations for the project.
One example of boundaries is establishing Slack as our means of communication and setting office hours.
Don’t hesitate to be firm about this agreement because it encourages respect in the relationship.
Another thing relating to identifying your red flags is to remember these negative attributes because they aid in separating the good clients from the “bad” ones. In my case, I’ve learned that if a client is not willing to listen to you, you know that things may not work out.
The bottomline of this entire article, and the main lesson I want to impart to you is that you need to become self-aware and learn when to say no. Because I have this constant urge to help people, I admit that saying no can be difficult at times.
But I’ve learned that saying “no” and establishing certain boundaries is an act of valuing yourself and establishing your worth.
Remember that you and your business come before your clients and I hope the lessons I’ve learned from my own personal experiences can help you find better clients to scale and grow your business.