The Year End Checklist Any Small Business Owner Needs for Success
By: Kathleen Ries-Jubenville | Read time: 4 minutes
1. Which clients, vendors and referral partners do I enjoy working with the most? Why?
With your clients, identify what you like about your favorites to refine your target market and marketing message to acquire more clients just like them. Do you make the most money from them? Are they just fun to work with? Do they show up on time and prepared for your meetings? For your vendors, are your favorites the ones who are the least expensive or are they the ones who provide quality work, on time? And with your referral partners, are your favorite ones providing value to you equal to what you provide to them? Are they working as hard as you to grow your businesses together and sending you lots of referrals?
Now that you have determined your best clients, vendors, and referral partners, think about something special you can do for them or send to them to tell them how much you appreciate them. Nurture the relationships that mean the most to you and your business!
2. Which clients, vendors and referral partners do I enjoy working with the least? Why?
Are your not-so-enjoyable clients the least profitable and most difficult people? What are the specifics about why you don't like working with them? Perhaps you could add a new requirement for your leads during your qualification call to make sure you don't agree to work with other clients like them. For your vendors, are they overcharging and underperforming? Could you work with a different contractor and get a better deal or have less stress wondering if they are going to meet their deadlines or give you quality work? Is it time to develop relationships with new referral partners? Are your existing partners too busy for you or just not dedicated enough to the referral process?
Now that you have determined your least favorite clients, vendors, and referral partners, it may be time for a difficult conversation to set some boundaries or to let them go.
3. Is there anyone I should have a heart-to-heart conversation with? Why?
It is never easy to have a difficult conversation, but if you value the relationship with someone, you need to clear the air and set expectations. It is easy to bring your frustrations with that person into the meeting but ask yourself if you have communicated your needs or your boundaries with them before. If the answer is 'no', then (I hate to tell you this, but as your coach, you need to hear it) it's not fair to be frustrated with them. You haven't given them a fair chance to succeed yet. So, approach the conversation with a desire to be honest and kind and to work things out with them. You may be surprised at how well it goes and you will feel a huge relief!
4. Is there anyone I should stop working with? Why?
Letting a client go is a really difficult thing to do. We are often afraid of losing the cash flow and of the client's reaction in the call. Most business owners find that they quickly replace the income they lost by letting a difficult client go and often can take on two new clients now that they have eliminated the stress and extra time the difficult client caused. No client is happy to be let go. It's a hassle for them to replace you. So, the easiest way to let them go is to give them a referral or connection to someone else who is willing to work with them. I recommend being honest with them, but you may have to think a little about which honest thing to say and how to say it. The goal is to minimize any bad feelings between you. However, their reaction is not your responsibility, so just do the best you can and let them deal with the repercussions of their behavior that led to the conversation in the first place.
So, when you do your year-end business review, remember to evaluate your relationships along with your numbers to really accelerate your success!
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