I can say I didn’t see it coming, but I really did. The situation surrounding the client were unique and I knew it wasn’t going to be a very long term relationship. It actually lasted a lot longer than it should have. Life happens as it does and I was busy working with clients, training staff, being present and supporting my family so it really wasn’t on the top of my mind. When I got the call from the client, I felt it wasn’t a normal conversation. I felt the end of this relationship was coming. I was right. Even though I didn’t do anything wrong, it was still tough to handle.
This particular client was one of my top 5 clients. The revenue was material to my practice. I was on the heels of probably my best quarter as far as getting new clients and I was riding high. Goals were being met and exceeded, things I had been putting off were coming to the front burner. My confidence was at a peak and it was showing in all facets. When I hung up the phone from the call, I slowly slumped in my chair. I could feel the air leaking out of my body. This was going to hurt. This was going to set me back. Immediately old gremlins of worry and self doubt started to creep back in. All the good vibes from my recent successes were pushed down and all I could think was “Damn, when am I ever going to get a break in this business.”
My pity party surrounding the loss of that client lasted about a month. I don’t think I realized how much it affected me, but the ease and flow I had been feeling the previous 3 months were gone. I was distracting myself with useless tasks more and my biggest worry, that of not being able to provide for my family, crept back in. One day I got back from work and was tired of this burden of worry I had imposed upon myself. I committed to change my point of view as whatever I was doing wasn’t working. Once I did that for one evening, the cause of my discontent became readily apparent.
As a entrepreneurial professional, we often wrap our self worth into our business. When things are going well, you feel invincible. When things are going bad, every small item seems insurmountable. Handling the highs and lows of a practice can be a huge challenge. When you lose a client, I don’t care who you are or how big your practice is, it hurts. It feels like an indictment of you personally because after all, it’s your name on the door. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
While it may not be pleasant, you have to review to see what happened. If the loss was due to mistakes by you or your staff, you have to accept what happened. Making a mistake does not make you a bad person. If owning up to the mistake is required and an apology due to the client, you must do that. It’s truly not for them, it’s for you. If no mistake was made and it was simply time, it’s very important to realize that as well. Whatever the reason, once the review is done, you move forward.
If mistakes were made, you need to address how they were made and try to avoid such mistakes in the future. Was the mistake an error in your process? Was it a mistake in judgment or of information? Could it have been avoided by a better series of checks and balances? This is a great opportunity to sit down with your team and re-evaluate what you do and how you do it and how it can be improved. If a staffing correction or change needs to be done, act swiftly and certainly. It is crucial to ALWAYS look for a better way to do things and never allow complacency to sit in. Once you’ve corrected what led to the mistakes, you move forward.
Once you’ve done the review and you’ve corrected the mistake, you must forgive. You must forgive yourself for what happened no matter what. If you don’t forgive, you can find yourself like me stuck in a malaise of uncertainty not understanding what happened and unable to move positively forward. Once you’ve forgiven, you move forward.
Once you’ve forgiven, you’ll find the ease and flow of your business to immediately come back, they really didn’t go anywhere. You won’t completely forget the lost client, but you’ll quickly see your business did not come to a screeching halt and your business is still growing and thriving. You’ll quickly remember that other prospect you were working on that was probably one more call away from a close or that new client that hired you shortly after the one client left.