Why I Fired One of My Favourite Clients

image1 copyA couple of years ago I had a client that I have a lot of respect for and we had a great working relationship but I eventually decided to stop working with them.

Why?

They were paying a good amount for my services as a business advisor but were not acting on the advice that they paid for. Am I crazy? Let me explain…

Value Is Everything

It’s very important to me that I’m driving value for my clients but at the end of the day, I can’t force them to make changes to their business. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

So we had a discussion about their spending habits (i.e. spending too much) on professional advice and not taking that advice. When I asked them point blank why this was the case, the client could not come up with the answer.

We had these great discussions but I ultimately determined that they were spending money that they shouldn’t be spending because they weren’t taking the advice. It’s not that they didn’t like the advice they received before, they just weren’t acting on it. They realized this was true and we ended the working relationship amicably.

No harm, no foul.

They recently contacted me again and wanted to meet with me. They said they are ready to take that advice and go to the next level with their business but I wanted to be sure.

What’s Different?

I met that client again and the first question I had was, what’s different?

You want to come back and work with me and get my professional advice on moving your business forward but what’s changed? If nothing has, don’t do it. I would be a poor business advisor if I told them to make a decision that would ultimately cost them more money and deliver no results.

In this case, they had justified reasons that gave me the confidence to know they’ve made a change and I’m excited to be working with them again.

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Some people might scold me for turning away business from a great client but I’m not in the business of taking people’s money for nothing. I don’t feel like I’m doing my job right if I’m not helping you get to the next level in your business, whether that’s my fault or yours.

I think when people use professional advisors they have to be ready to accept that professional advice and decide if they want to act on it or not. It is ultimately the owner’s decision whether they take it or not but if you are paying for professional advice and constantly not using it. Stop paying for it because it’s just a waste of time and money.

Should You Hire a Business Advisor?

Before you hire a business advisor, ask yourself a few simple questions.

  1. What is happening in your business right now that is driving you to seek external advice?
  2. What has changed in your business that has made you want to seek out that advice?
  3. If you’re going to pay for advice, are you prepared to take it?

I joked in my previous blog, Do You Need a Business Advisor, that an advisor is part coach, part trainer and part therapist. You wouldn’t pay a coach, trainer or therapist for very long if you weren’t taking their advice because you would not be progressing.

If you’re thirsty and your advisor has led you to water, drink it. If you think the water has something funky inside, maybe your advisor isn’t the right fit for you.

In this case of the client mentioned above, it became obvious that they had a higher need now for the advice whereas, in the past, he thought they had other solutions that didn’t quite materialize.

The difference is that now they are committed to making the changes necessary based on the advice they are given. The question that you need to ask yourself now is: if you hire a business advisor, are you prepared to do the same?

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