It's time to let a client go

Let a Client Go? I Can’t Afford That!

When I first started my business, I never imagined I would or could get to the point where I would ever willingly decide to no longer do work for a client. Now that I’ve been in business for a few years, I understand just how important for your business it actually is to let certain clients go. Let’s discus client relationships and why it might be time for you to let a clients go.

They Constantly Hound You

My business has grown a lot over the past year, and I’ve taken on a lot of new clients and projects, which is exciting. Bigger clients are starting to come around, and I’m beginning to partner with other businesses, such as marketing professionals and other creative professionals. I was excited recently that we landed a new client who owns dozens of businesses. He needs design services for those businesses, which is a big opportunity for my business partner and I.

The red flag that flew up was when my partner (who mainly focuses on print) informed me that he was being hounded by our new client at 1AM for a poster design. On top of that, I submitted a fair proposal for a brand new website, and he tried to get me to lower my price. We eventually decided to pass on his business, because he didn’t value our services, even though he was ecstatic over the poster design my partner did.

In the long run, it’s more important that we free ourselves from clients like this, because if you end up lowering your prices for clients like him, they’ll always expect to be able to slash your prices. This means you’ll be doing a lot of work for less money, which defeats the purpose of having a large client. This also frees up time for higher paying clients, and boosts our morale in the long haul.

They Don’t Pay

What’s worse is that you might do some great work for clients, and then they don’t pay or take forever to pay you. What I’ve found interesting is that those clients who want a quick turnaround are the ones who actually take the longest to getting around to paying you. Make sure to get 50% up front and then 50% at the end of the project. Also, if late payments persist, change your policies to discourage from this by adding steep late charges.

They Take Up Too Much Of Your Time

Have you ever had a client who calls you 2 or 3 times per week and tries to keep you on the phone for a half an hour each time? Some clients will try to eat up all of your time, which detracts from your productivity. They might also want a lot of meetings that aren’t necessary. Make sure you wrangle them in, and if you can’t, it might be time to cut them loose.

They Are Constantly Fighting You on Prices

I don’t know why some clients think that our prices are negotiable. They think we factor in funds to let them talk us down, which isn’t true. It’s one thing to offer a package deal for a lot of services, but don’t let clients dictate your prices. If they don’t want to pay that much, they can hire someone else, and they can be their problem.

They Hold Up Projects

I just recently had a client who held up starting his blog for 2 solid months, because he was fine-tuning every little detail of how it looked. These details were so minor, that most people would never notice, such as changing the line-height between text from 1.7em to 1.6 (I’m not kidding). Other clients will hold up projects by not submitting materials, such as information, product images, etc., in a timely fashion. These clients are more of a headache than they are worth.

They Constantly Try To Get Things For Free

Occasionally, you’ll have a client who will try to get you to throw everything in for free, including the kitchen sink. You’ll lose your shirt if you’re not careful. Don’t be so agreeable! It’s ok to throw in something minor as an added value every once in a while, but make sure they know that it’s a rare occurrence, and it’s because they are such a good client.


I’m willing to bet some of you are saying to yourself, “I’d never turn down a client. I can’t afford it!” The problem is, if you have clients like these, then you can’t afford not to. Dropping problem clients is a part of every business. Will Yakowicz, in his post for Inc. recommends having a process for dropping clients in place. Part of owning your own business is being firm with clients in a way that doesn’t come off as cross, while educating them on the value of your work. Have you had to let a client go recently? Are you afraid to let a client go? Feel free to share your stories in the comments section below.

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