I don’t remember where I first heard of “firing” bad clients, but it’s mostly associated with the idea of only working with clients that don’t make you pull your hair out (and that pay on time, and treat you like a human being). It’s a really valuable concept; I love what I do and I love my clients because I’ve learned to only work for people who value my time and my talents.
I’m starting to think that avoiding frustrating clients isn’t enough, though.
In Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography, he describes a moment shortly after Jobs’ return to Apple. At a time where the competition was rapidly increasing their product lines, frantic to meet the distinct and unique needs of every single consumer, Steve Jobs pared Apple’s lines down to four: a laptop for consumers, a desktop for consumers, a laptop for professionals and a desktop for professionals.
So many businesses, like people, drown from a lack of focus, from a lack of knowing what they really want. I’m guilty of it, and so are some of my clients: offering too many products or too many services, trying to be all things to all people. We need to stop. We need to say no to business that distracts us from our core. Even better, we should refer that business to our friends who are better suited for it.
I’m going to start right now.