I often find myself thinking about whether or not it’s ok to lose clients. Over the years, I’ve probably lost 80% of my clients, maybe more.

But what do we mean when we talk about losing a client?

Well, some of my clients just needed one particular service, for example, a new website. We created the website and then they moved on. We couldn’t sell them anything else, they weren’t interested at the time. No marketing, no email campaigns, no social media.

But that’s ok isn’t it?

I have a handful of clients that have been with me for YEARS! One in particular since 2010, one since 2012, one since 2013. That’s a 7 year relationship, 5 and 4 year relationships respectively.

Then I have a selection of clients that I’ve been working with for 12-18 months or so. Things are going well, in terms of our services and their result.

So why is it not ok to lose a client?

If you think about, once you’ve done your job and someone leaves, you’ve “lost” the client. I think it’s healthy, not just ok to lose clients. When you do everything to try and keep someone, you’ll often change the relationship from a win-win (you need something, you pay me, I do it – think service/product for money) to a far more toxic win-lose (you don’t really need anything, I push it on you at a massive discount, then provide a service – I’m now not getting my value for my service, and you never wanted it in the first place).

But so many people do this.

The idea that all your clients should stay with you forever is crazy.

Why would they?

When you think about your purchasing habits, there are probably very few things you purchase consistently from one vendor.

My biggest weakness for this is Apple. All my tech comes from them. I hate the naysayers that seem to think it’s a “closed environment” and therefore no good.

The tech is great, it works, it always works, seamlessly across devices. So I stick to Apple, have done now for nearly 15 years.

But for a lot of things, household type goods, food or clothes, I have NO brand loyalty what so ever.

Bad clients

The same way as a client may think that you’re not good enough for them, I’ve also experienced it the other way round. Not often, but it has happened.

I’ve had what you might call toxic clients. What’s a Toxic Client?

If you’ve ever heard or read about Pareto’s Principle (you may know it as the 80/20 rule) you can quickly assess your clients. It’s not an absolute rule, but it’s always worked for me when I’ve used it. 80% of your revenue comes with 20% your problems. 80% of your problems come from 20% of your clients.

I assess in two categories, Toxic vs Awesome!

Look at the simplest of metrics to figure this out:

Problems vs Money Earned.

Usually, it breaks down like this:

Awesome Clients:

Money > Problems (You earn more money compared to the problems you have to face).

Toxic Clients:

Problems > Money (you face more problems for the money you earn).

I’ve over simplified this, just to make it clearer, but if you look at your business and your current clients, I’ll guarantee you have a similar situation.

Why it’s ok to lose clients

At the end of the day, I’m here to tell you that it’s ok to have clients not stay with you forever. In fact it’s probably a healthy thing for you and the client. At the end of the day, you may not be best suited to helping them in the future, or they might want to go in a different direction.

If you have a toxic client, don’t wait for them to leave, get rid of them (in a nice way obviously) and when a good client wants to go, ask them why. It won’t hurt you to hear what it was they were looking for that you couldn’t offer or provide.

Additional Note:

Recently I lost a client. We had been working together for about 6 months. The truth is though, they were struggling. It’s a business that was growing fast, but with quick growth comes issues that sometimes can hinder the journey.

Since then, I’ve had 2 friends reach out to me for some help on their projects/businesses and suddenly I’ve been introduced to a Michelin Star Restaurant that wants help with their marketing. So remember, the phrase…

you win some, you lose some

…has never been as true as it is today. The way we live right now, you need to be prepared to give, before you can take.

NB: Did you see my article on some of my favourite books for business? How do you read? 

Plus, be sure to check out my newest project – Nomadic Store – Travel essentials, gifts and more!

Chris Bruno
Chris Bruno

I’m Chris Bruno, Founder and CEO of Social INK, a community-driven, social-first, digital marketing agency. I'm also the host of the All About Digital Marketing podcast. I'm passionate about marketing, travel, food and continual development.