Not sure why a certain client leaves you drained? The reason why might surprise you…

One of the most rewarding things about owning a small business is working closely with clients who understand and appreciate what you and your business offer. For a lot of us, this is part of the reason we made the leap into entrepreneurship.

While it’s true that most of your client relationships will be mutually beneficial, as your business grows, you’ll likely encounter an unfortunate and unavoidable scenario… When working with a new (or existing) client leaves you feeling frustrated or drained, it’s time to ask yourself whether you’re working FOR them or WITH them.

Rather than sticking around for what could quickly become a toxic relationship, ask yourself these three questions to decide if it’s time to walk away.

“Do I Feel Like I’m Back at My Day Job?”

If you find yourself having a consistently difficult time with a client, it could be time for a journey down memory lane. First stop: A typical afternoon at your day job.

Think back to the frustrations you felt there. What were some of the reasons that led you to start your own business? For example, did you feel creatively stifled? Or were you tired of a daily grind that had no room for flexibility? Were your ideas and innovations disregarded?

Whatever your reasons for frustration, taking the time to reflect is a great way to achieve clarity on what exactly feels wrong with your current client relationship. If you find that this client suddenly looks more like a bad boss, then it may be time to part ways.

None of us want to turn away business, but some clients just aren’t worth holding onto.

“Would I Feel Comfortable Saying No to an Idea?”

When it comes to working with clients, you will likely deal with every personality type and working style under the sun. Some clients will give you free reign on a project, while others may take a more hands-on approach. But no matter the client’s personality, open communication is a must for the relationship to be mutually beneficial. Your client relationship is about much more than providing a service; you’re also creating a partnership.

If you’re questioning whether to keep working with someone, ask yourself if you feel comfortable vetoing an idea. If just the thought of this makes you squirm, you may not have a collaborative relationship.

Being unable to have frank and potentially difficult conversations with your client, means it’s likely time to move on.

“Do I Feel Drained After Working With This Client?”

It’s no secret that life as an entrepreneur isn’t always easy. From projects that consume more time than planned, to finding the perfect work/life balance, it’s natural to feel exhausted at times. However, there’s a big difference between feeling exhausted and feeling drained.

Some clients just seem to suck the life (and energy) out of you. When you always find yourself feeling worse after an interaction with a client, it’s likely that your input isn’t being valued.

Despite the challenges of being a business owner, working on your own ideas should always be enlivening. However, nothing is more draining than working for a person who doesn’t appreciate your contributions.

Determining if a client relationship is mutually beneficial isn’t always easy. However, taking the time to carefully consider the above questions will help you identify client relationships that aren’t serving you and your business.

And, if you’re still on the fence about a client, reminding yourself why you took the leap into entrepreneurship in the first place should help get you back on track.

Remember: You started your business because you’re passionate about the service or product you provide. If someone can’t appreciate the unique things you can contribute, they’re not a good fit for you or your business.

About Emily D. Tisdale, Founder & CEO

Meet the brains — and heart — behind LEAP for Women. Emily is LEAP’s guiding force, committed to supporting women entrepreneurs at every stage in their journey.

She loves LEAP because:

We’re an authentic resource for women who want the nitty-gritty details of running a business. I want everyone to have the same amazing resources I had.

A resident of Indiana, Emily prides herself on being a transplanted Hoosier and enjoys watching Colts football and spending time with her husband and their two children.

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