Not gonna lie, I do best with praise and I thrive on positive relationships so there is nothing more excruciating for me than when I don’t ‘fit’ with someone whether that be a romantic entanglement, a friendship or a business relationship.
Shortly after I started working as a VA I had a client who was perfect on paper but sucked arse big time in reality. Don’t get me wrong the work was easy, do it with my eyes closed kind of easy but sadly I had to fight for them to pay every single invoice. They would call me outside of the set boundaries (which are super important in freelance work) and they had no concept of time.
I had to fire them and it felt brutal. I questioned whether I could have made anything clearer or done more and I still feel slightly uncomfortable when I think back to it. I was very much in the feast or famine stage of my business and it’s a painful memory.
Then there’s the time when you fall in love with a client and their business, the work is sassy and interesting and you have the enthusiasm of a teenage boys first boob groping attempt when it comes to everything you’re doing for them – you genuinely can’t wait to get the next email/WhatsApp or call. You work your butt off and you see the growth and you are super excited and then bam! They let you go.
It’s the old ‘it’s not you it’s me’ conversation. They’re investing their money differently, or you’ve fulfilled your end of the deal and they’re simply wrapping up the loose ends. Oh it hurts – you are of course thrilled for their success but it still sucks and naturally you take a bit of a confidence kick in the mammories.
And what about the dating you do in business? The wooing of potential clients, the fluttering of emails and calls, the hours of learning about them and pitching the perfect shot only to get the, “You’re amazing but I’ve just realised I’m not actually in the market right now. I’ll definitely consider you when I am though.”
It’s the erectile dysfunction of the business world. It happens to everyone at some point but you don’t really know what to do with yourself in the moment.
My tips for getting you through these kinds of situations are to:
- Perspective is great. You really aren’t the right fit for each other right now – it can be so hard trying to forge a relationship on such shaky ground – it’s a blessing in disguise.
- Reflective Practise. Why did it get to this stage before the cards were on the table and you were left feeling rejected? Were they really your ideal client i.e. if money was the issue, if their stage of business was appropriate, were you both clear enough on your boundaries/needs and requirements? Could you have improved any of the above?
- Is there anything else that could benefit from this relationship? For example, could you connect them with a prospective client of their own or help connect them with someone elses service that they need or could you ask for a testimonial or connection to other people in their network?
- Should you maintain this relationship? Just because the time isn’t right right now could you still keep the conversation open? Connected on Socials? Schedule in contact for 8 weeks time? (remember business is about building relationships)
- What can you learn from this? Look at was was good, not so good and anything that was downright ugly about it and learn from it.
(I don’t recommend alcohol but I am partial to an expensive bourbon over ice)
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