As a new agency founder, nothing could have prepared me for the number of sleepless nights I’d spend worrying about losing clients. Thankfully, that’s not an issue anymore because I’ve realized that we’ll lose all of them.
Let me explain…
The Impermanence of Client Relationships
Just like with any relationship or partnership, the client-consultant relationship is a transient one. It’s in a constant state of flux and is dependent on certain conditions that, if changed significantly enough, will cause the relationship to end. It’s not going to be personal and it doesn’t necessarily reflect on the quality of work done, but the conditions that brought a client to UpBuild will one day change and the end of relationship will simply happen.
During UpBuild’s first 6 months, I’d wake up in the middle of the night at least a few times a week with this sinking feeling…
During UpBuild’s first six months, I used to wake up in the middle of the night at least a few times a week – at 2am, 3am, 4am – with this sinking feeling that I was going to lose a client that day, or that week. Most of the time, the feeling was tied to my own insecurities about running my own company (what business do I have running a business?); other times it was an illogical lack of faith in my ability to do great SEO work; other times it was for no apparent reason at all.
I started a consistent meditation practice at roughly the same time that I founded UpBuild, and as the practice of the former evolved, I started to get a better understanding of how to relate to the latter. As with any negative thought that arose during meditation, a worry about a client would invariably pass and it was my job to allow that to happen, rather than clinging to that worry and amplifying it.
This train of thought eventually led me to the realization that it wasn’t just thoughts (good or bad) about clients that were impermanent, but the client-consultant relationship itself. Clinging to it and allowing anxiety to take over if I felt it starting to slip away wasn’t doing anybody any good.
But Wait, There’s More
This is not to say that my view changed to not care about our clients.
I care about UpBuild’s clients a lot.
However, what has changed is that I now don’t panic when faced with the possibility of losing them. Each partnership, no matter how great the work we’re doing right now, will end:
- budget will run out
- stakeholders will change and the new ones may bring their own preferred vendors with them
- implementation resources will become unavailable
- the client brings on an in-house specialist
- the client learns enough about technical marketing and optimization to feel self sufficient
If we lose all of our clients due to the last reason, I’d actually consider us pretty dang successful.
Getting to the Point
My point through all of this is that, since all client-consultant relationships are impermanent, we need to focus on providing the most value and creating the biggest impact that we can right now. That’s the most we can do and that’s the best we can do.
Since all client-consultant relationships are impermanent, we need to focus on providing the most value and creating the biggest impact that we can right now.
If we put in the hard work and pick the right battles for SEO, analytics, and CRO every day and focus on what’s going to move the needle for our clients, we’ll have done something great. When we invariably see that client-consultant relationship come to an end, we’ll know that we made the most of our time working together.
Each client will be lost at some point, so we need to make an impact today. In this way, we can avoid clinging to an ending relationship where we regret not doing enough, making enough impact, or being as proactive as we could have.
Photo credit: Richard Walker Photography