“I fired a client recently”, Eliot says, with a twinkle in his eye and some understated elation in his voice.
And so begins today’s story.
Sometimes, we have clients that, although they are wonderful and maybe even very profitable, aren’t a great fit for our best work. It’s okay to both realize this and design our work around those clients that are a great fit. And it’s also okay to fire the ones that don’t.
Why is that important for business?
Having a business and having a business that brings you satisfaction and joy are two very different things. Occasionally, firing a client is necessary to ensure the latter. And so it is important to periodically ask yourself:
If someone came along today and said they would take all of your clients away, which would fight to keep?
This exercise helps you reach hard decisions because it creates contrast, and your brain needs contrast to see things clearly.
Just as a wine sommelier may select a wine to, in fact, contrast with the flavors of food instead of matching them, contrast helps us experience nuances we would otherwise not be able to perceive.
So if you find yourself unclear on what you want to do, would it help to be clear on what you don’t want? If you are trying to determine what you love in a website, would it help to start with what you hate? The “not that” helps you see where you have strong feelings, where before you felt indecisive.
When dealing with your staff and you ask for feedback, and none is forthcoming, give them some contrast to help them. What do they not like? If this business were to grow to 10 times the size, what would you hate about working here?
Sometimes, it isn’t about articulating a vision, but paying attention to what your gut says about something. What would make you really excited, and what would you really dread?
Contrast is important, but we tend to not seek it out. Instead, we seek out ease, comfort, simplicity. Navigating to the middle, where there is less contrast, seems simpler, but it makes it harder to have clarity. Expanding to the edges, where there is more contrast and perspective, can actually make it easier.
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