Did you ever think you’d see the day when pulling the plug on your dreams sounded more enticing than sticking with them?
Or maybe you’ve secretly been dreaming about closing up shop and going back to work for the man, or just sticking with your good ol’ 9-5 gig?
I completely understand those things because I’ve experienced every one of those myself.
For me, that time came for me several years ago the first time I had to fire a client.
The gig sounded good enough to begin with – it was a $2500 gig and the guy was open to the suggestions I could make.
I knew I could turn it around pretty quickly. I thought it was a great budget for the scope of what I needed to do and it would be a profitable one for me.
But it quickly turned south.
My email was constantly full of his requests and my phone rang all the time with him making wanting to talk about yet another change request that was way out of scope for what I quoted him originally.
What should have been a 30-day project ended up stringing out over 3 months because I couldn’t say no.
I was ready to quit. If this was the kind of client I’d be stuck working with, was it really all worth it?
But I reached a point where it didn’t matter anymore what he thought.
We had to part ways.
I’d reached the breaking point, and it was the only time I can remember having to fire a client in the 15 years I’ve been doing this.
It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my business and taught me some valuable lessons.
Raise your hand if any of this sounds familiar because we’ve all had those moments:
…your client asks you for yet another ridiculous change request they have no intention on paying you for
…your client is front and center when they want something but when the invoice is due, they ghost you
…you can’t take on another project because you’re stuck on the current one and don’t have the capacity
…you realize you can’t pay your bills with the kinds of projects that come your way – low-ball projects that are more trouble than they’re worth
…you’ve just had enough and you’re tired of pouring out your blood, sweat, and tears out on projects that pay peanuts and take forever to complete
…When you calculate the hours you spend on a project vs. what you charged you realize you’d be thrown in jail if you were an employer because you’re violating minimum wage laws – badly.
Laughing to yourself right now because some (all?) of those things sound familiar?
Honestly, if that’s the stuff you have to deal with every day, shelving your business sounds wonderful and would make your life a lot easier!.
I know because I stood in that very same spot with those very same frustrations.
Just like you, I love to create – to build – to design – to make beautiful, functional digital “things”.
And also, just like you, I was good enough that I figured out how to make money doing it for others.
When it came to the business side of running my creative services business I underestimated what was involved.
I made lots of mistakes because I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
My dad had a saying when I was growing up, “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right” and it’s stuck with me to this day.
I knew that my business was worth it. And I knew that instead of shutting it down I had to get it right.
So, instead of giving up, I decided to dig and get better.
But over the last few years, I’ve figured out some stuff that REALLY works.
- What if you could attract only the right kind of clients?
- What you could attract only the right budgets with the right budgets?
- What if your creative services business actually made money?
- What if you had systems & processes that keep everyone on track, and make the projects actually profitable (and no more minimum-wage law violations!)?
The things I’ve figured out over the last few years have been absolutely revolutionary for my agencies and helped us to win high-quality, healthy budget clients and maximize profits.
As creatives, we definitely need to be talking about this more, so I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Which of these stories sounds most like you? Where is your creative business driving you crazy?
Leave me a comment below and let me know.