Best Of, Tools of the Trade, Virtual Assistant, WAHM

Cultivating Clients that don’t Suck your Soul

I remember in the early days of my VA career spending a lot of time fussing.

Fussing about one particular client that was starting to wear thin on me. The client AND the work were starting to wear thin on me.

But here’s the rub, this client (as prickly as they may be) is also consistent, fast paying (the pay is OK..not crappy, not great either) and decent work. But 3.5 years in, I am starting to get bored and starting to truly feel invisible as far as a team member.

Thus the reason for the fussing.

But I also remember wondering what was at the root of this upset. Was I stressing about this client because I have truly outgrown them? Was I fed up with the minor disrespect that gets sent my way? Or did I lose sight of what they truly were: a means to an end?

Back then, a crystal ball would have been lovely.

What to do When Client Suck Your Soul

I admit back then that I had fantasies about giving my notice to this client….which were quickly followed by feelings of sheer terror when I thought about this chunk of change going bye-bye every month. So that night, as I lay in bed fretting about this issue for the 167th time this week I decided to ask for help from my Higher Power.

And by golly, it WORKED.

As the sun came up and blasted me in the eyeballs this morning the first thought that came to mind was the work I needed (yes NEEDED) to get done for this particular client.

DREAD 🙁

But when I popped open my email, one of the first things I saw in my Inbox was a podcast from the Freelance Writer’s Den (oh, how I heart “the Den!”) called, HOW TO BALANCE WRITING FOR LOVE AND PAYING THE BILLS from Jennifer Goforth Gregory.

An answer to my request for clarity! So I clicked and listened. Thirty minutes later and I can happily say YES, THAT was what I needed to hear.

Fast forward over 6 years and I now know that being a freelancer is amazing and tough all at the same time. It is, without a doubt, business ownership and being the CEO is a blessing and a curse. BUT, I also know that I do have choices and the power to mold my business how I see fit. This includes the kind of people I choose to work with.

My clients now fall into the Clients that are a Delight and their work is just as Delightful category.  If you have any clients in this category, congrats- you are BLESSED. If you have a great client, that pays good (and on time) and the work is super rewarding and fun (I have at least 3 of this kind of clients #Winning :), hang on to them for dear life. BUT, the reality is that probably only about 25% of your customer base will fall into this category.

Do Your Client Fall Into these Categories?

#1-The Client is a Delight, but their work is Boring as Heck: Again, this is not horrible and you should count your lucky stars. As long as you are part of a team that is doing good work, and you feel like you are a respected member of this team, then these clients are an asset to your business.

#3-The Client is a Troll, but their work is Delightful: Assuming this client pays well and on time, their downside would be that they are the Cruella di Ville of the client world.  I personally can look past a little “troll-y-ness” if the work is enjoyable and fulfilling. And I feel respected at some level.

#3-The Client is a Troll and their work is Drudgery: I have a hard-n-fast rule in my virtual assistant/freelancer life when it comes to clients. The moment I start dreading hearing from them…they gotta go. Also, if these types of clients get mean and abusive, they totally need to hit the road ASAP. I tend to have at least one of these every year and proud to say separating from them were among some of the smartest moves I ever made for my business. These are the clients who are also Boat Anchors. They suck your time, your energy and your soul leaving your exhausted and feeling pretty crappy. If you find yourself with one or more of these, seriously begin an exit plan. If you are worried about a loss of income, just think of the hours you are designating to this client and how that time could be better served directed in more productive and profitable directions.

After listening to Jennifer’s podcast I have decided to make an effort to re-frame my view of this quasi Category 3/4 client. It’s amazing how a little attitude adjustment can show things in a different light! My decision at this moment is to work on viewing this client not as who they are, but for what they do and how they offer amazing opportunities for business and people to have the spotlight shined on them. I like being about to share the journeys of amazing people and this job has put me in the position of interviewing many, many people who inspired me and make me a better me. THAT is what I choose to focus on for the moment, and for the years to come.

What do you think of this hypothesis? Thoughts?

Now go forth and be FABULOUS.

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