Losing a client can be devastating. Sometimes it can destroy a company, but most of the time it's an annoyance and means you have to go hunting for more work.
When Barking Mad Media opened up, most of my work came from referrals. When you first start up your business, 100% of your work will come from people you know connecting you to people who need you. This is just how most businesses start. Facebook began like that. So did Apple.
When you have a vision, you must surround yourself with advisors and supporters to help build your business. Sometimes it's family, often friends and usually former co-workers. Never burn your bridges!
The problem is, these referrals tend to be small potatoes. They are usually are low paying and require too much work, lack repeat business or aren't quite what you do professionally. So, you decide it's time to put on your big-boy/girl pants and go looking for more work beyond your uncle having you design menus for his hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon by the airport.
As you grow your business and start taking on new clients, you notice things changing. Fewer referrals, more drive-thru clients, (clients who come in for one or two very specific services and disappear) and more repeat clients.
Then, there's the sugar daddy. That one business who ends up taking up most of your time and energy and every time they email you for more work, you smile from ear to ear. They praise you, they compliment you. They pay you on time. And this usually goes on for a while if you're lucky. Three or more years and you've found a unicorn. You feel you can finally expand your business, grow your gear and talent pool. Maybe get that car you've always wanted. Things are going great. Money comes in, great product goes out.
Except, that unicorn you proudly brag about to your slightly less employed friends, is starting to whither. Fewer and fewer calls, no matter how many times you reach out until one day you find out you were replaced by someone cheaper. No hard feelings, it's just business...right?
But, it's never 'just' business, really, now is it? Your bank account is dwindling, you're starting to panic. You're confused as to why the contract fizzled. Where did I go wrong? Should I have done more freebee work when they asked? Were they really a magical unicorn or more of a twitching, drooling troll?
Your first reaction may be a defensive one. How can I win back this client? To be honest, you really can't nor should you make the effort. Think of this as your girlfriend/boyfriend dumping you for someone else. It's over and there is likely very little you can do about it. Here's that emotional response we all feel. Sadness. Depression.
But, your life isn't over, nor is your business. There will always be opportunities to find new customers. Your financial advisor always tells you to diversify your portfolio, why not apply the same advice to your clients?
You need to see these moments of adversary as opportunities. You know the old adage, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Well, no. Lose, fail, these words are so final. They are so, end of the line, get off, this bus is going out of service, stuck in crack town, kinda words. They're, oh no the ship is sinking and my girlfriend won't let me on the floating door, kinda final. A Tyrannosaurus Rex is about to eat me because I'm a lawyer kinda final.
What you should be saying is, sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.
I once lost a customer I considered to be my sugar daddy and it hurt more than it should because I wasn't seeing the forest for the trees. I wasn't looking at how I could make my business shine.
I pulled up my bootstraps, ramped up my advertising, and in the period of a month I had made enough contacts and new potential clients to replace my sugar daddy three times over.
If I had stuck with the status quo, and not looked for opportunity, my revenue wouldn't have gone up and I would still be doing the same stuff over and over again.
I'm grateful now for what happened because I learned, and I made efforts, and they returned back to me in droves. My business grew from it.
Remember, nothing is over until you decide it's over. Nothing is final until you can no longer take a breath. until that happens, keep working at it. You'll succeed and when you don't, you'll learn because sometimes you'll fail, and when you do, you'll succeed bigger and better than before.