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How to Break Up With a Client
Ending Business Relationships as an Entrepreneur

As entrepreneurs, you work hard to build a solid client base. But what happens when it’s time to break-up with a client? There are lots of reasons, sometimes it’s just not a match, sometimes there are shifts in priorities and time, other times people are just plain difficult. No matter the reason, breaking up with a client requires a certain amount of finesse and respect. Let’s take a look at the best way to handle a client break-up.

Be honest. Whatever the reason. For one thing, getting caught in a lie makes you and your business look very bad. Two, however uncomfortable the reasoning, it may be helpful for the client to know when working with your replacement.

Acknowledge the work you’ve done together. Don’t waste time playing the blame game. Acknowledge the work you’ve done together and openly appreciate the opportunities the client has given you. There are tons of entrepreneurs out there who want more clients, so never take yours for granted, even when a separation becomes necessary.

Give notice. Don’t leave them hanging! It’s unprofessional and all around an uncool move. Put yourself in the client’s shoes and think about how much time you would want to find your replacement, then give them at least that much time. Remember, word of mouth is still incredibly powerful, and they are going to talk about you after your work with them is complete.

Recommend a replacement. If a client views you as a subject matter expert, they’ll appreciate any recommendations you have for them. Recommend a quality replacement you trust. The only thing worse than leaving them high and dry with no guidance is leading them to a choice that will have a negative impact on them and their business. If you don’t have a recommendation in mind, go the extra mile and do a little research.

Prioritize their transition. Don’t cut and run when the last check clears, take the time and effort to prep for the separation and see it through till the client feels good. Even after ties have been severed, give your contact details to your replacement, and offer to answer any questions they may have to help the transition go smoothly even after you’re gone.

Don’t burn bridges- there are two sides to every story! Every now and then a relationship is so toxic that we’re ready to wash our hands of someone and say, “NOPE, I’M DONE!” Do not do this. Aside from it being unprofessional, decisions made in anger rarely serve us well. And lest us not forgot, no matter how difficult a client has made your life, it’s entirely possible that despite your efforts, you weren’t a peach to work with 100% of the time either. No one’s perfect. And when ending business relationships, it's important to remember that applies to us as well, and go with grace.


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