I’m ten years deep [this post is 10 years old and never made it to the web… until NOW] in the design and technology fields… probably longer than that but that’s the “official” count. I’ve learned a great deal about myself and have evolved both personally and professionally. I’ve learned about the “cost” of doing business early on and why no amount of money is worth sacrificing your morals, values or beliefs. I’ve read tons of business articles, newsletters and blogs. I keep what makes sense to me and discard or file the rest. I’ve made good friends, made mistakes and had wonderful experiences as a result of doing what I feel is good business. I still believe in providing pro-bono work to people who honestly need it and will continue to do work gratis, when moved to do so, even if others think it foolhardy. I believe in doing good.
I decided my business blog, like so many other things I do, has to be real and ring true. Strangely, or not, I have always received affirmations as I’ve learned to make decisions intuitively. So here it is: sometimes you have to let go of clients. They’re not bad people, although some of them are suspect. And they probably aren’t bad clients – for someone else. Often there are things about the relationship that just don’t work. For me, it can be differences in creative opinions, lack of collaboration, slow/no payment or frequent, impossible last minute requests. Or egos. I have an aversion to large egos… power? Confidence? Entirely different.
I read a blog from a company similar to my own where the owner spoke of letting clients go and found another design firm for his client! Why would you do such a thing? The owner said he had the best interest of his client in mind. Maybe he was easing his own conscience… but honestly? I think he did the right thing by pairing the client with someone he thought could help them grow, when he felt he could not. Sometimes you have to move on in order to grow. My name is on everything I produce whether it’s written or not and I always want to be learning, growing and getting better. I’ve also worked hard to establish my brand and I protect the integrity of that brand by not associating with people doing things I would not do in business. Keep the movement forward and upward.
Disengaging from clients is not an every day occurrence and it’s rarely personal. I have never regretted “moving on” and try not to burn bridges. Ultimately, only one person loses or gains from my decisions – me. I make all decisions thoughtfully and carefully. Even when clients represent desirable income, if my gut instinct [Holy Spirit] tells me it won’t work, I know it won’t. I actually read something years ago from The Consultant’s Consultant, Alan Weiss, who said you should drop the bottom 15% of your clientele every few years. I was already doing this without realizing it because it made perfect sense. People are in constant flux, growing, ascending, plateauing… as are their businesses and organizations. I’m in the business of helping people grow and for that to happen, we have to invest in each other. I invest by doing the best possible creative work and my clients invest by trusting me with their creative and referring additional business. And of course, they pay me.
I believe my fellow blogger/entrepreneur said something like, “people should respect what you do enough to pay you on time.” Indeed. That cut clients I had to stalk for payment because to his way of thinking, that’s just disrespectful. Once I changed my mindset, people could barely wait for an invoice to pay me. As it should be. While money isn’t the be all and end all – it is obviously necessary to maintain and sustain business.
Years ago I read an article in Communication Arts about a design agency that was making a killing producing fabulous work. When asked what the key to their success was, they said they only took on certain projects after having very in-depth interviews with the potential client. Like they were giving the client a job! Again, I was like, “what?!?” But being selective goes hand in hand with letting go of clients. When you’re in “hustle” mode, you are tempted to take any and every opportunity that comes through the door. Even if it’s something you can’t possibly have any creative fun with. I did this for many years until I realized it was working against me. I’m not the fastest designer in the East and I would get bogged down with multiple projects just to keep cash flowing. Now I schedule projects. Sure, timelines creep, but working with people on projects I really want to work on keeps me feeling creative and energized.
It is here and only here that I flex my creative ego. I have been designing for years and have a strong body of work. I also don’t engage with those who doubt my abilities from the beginning – if I catch on from the beginning. Like Oprah once said, “Don’t play me small…” I’ve encountered those who think because I’m small town, I’m small time. Not true. Any designer can hook up something or push pixels and if that’s what you’re looking for, I’m not the designer for you. A super talented 12 year old can do something for you for $5. While they may have technical or creative skills, they simply don’t have my unique experience, skills, creativity or knowledge. That’s what makes me One Hip Sista.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]