Do you recognize 12 signs that it’s time to break up?

Finding your ideal client is the holy grail for a solopreneur.  It’s so important it must seem like a crazy idea to consider actually breaking up  a client. Yet, sometimes that’s the right answer.

12 signs that  it might be time to have the talk.

…there’s no harm in hoping for the best if you’re prepared for the worst. ~ Stephen King

I’m all about optimism and the goodness of (wo)man.  However, I’m also a belt and suspenders kinda gal.    Further, I was a Girl Scout.  You know the drill: be prepared.

Being a virtual assistant is a very personal thing.  You gotta be a people person but even then there will be some clients that try your patience.  Those are other people’s clients and you should send them along to their rightful providers.

If you would like to deal gracefully with parting ways, breaking up with or firing your client. You gotta pull up your big girl panties and get ready….now.  Before you get blindsided.

Don’t give me that look.  It’s when, not if.  When you entered the wacky world of self-employment, you don’t expect to love every client, do you?

These are my signs. Feel free to use mine as a guidepost as you develop your own.  Of course, your mileage will vary, so definitely add any new or interesting indicators in  the comments so we can all grow.  Totally disagree? Speak up in the comments.


It’s time to break up when…


  1. You aren’t as excited to work on this client’s projects as you once were
  2. You find yourself re-explaining things one too many times
  3. You’re re-arranging your projects to accommodate a weakness
  4. Your communication becomes strained or hard
  5. You’re beginning to avoid their emails/contact
  6. You feel frustrated
  7. You feel under or overwhelmed with the work
  8. You make workarounds
  9. You feel trapped
  10. You find yourself saying I’m sorry a lot more than usual
  11. You begin to unconsciously ‘look around’ for a replacement
  12. You know something is wrong but keep quiet

Email or in Person?

You know, I got some feedback about whether it’s better to start this conversation face to face or by email.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.  Email is better for newbies.

As a mediator, I know how hard it can be to start what seems like a difficult conversation.  If there’s a way around it, you will ignore it.  So, it doesn’t make sense to insist this be f-2-f conversation.  It’s more important to get the ball rolling via an email, which lets you plan your message and deliver it in a thoughtful way.  Also, I like having a paper trail.  It’s the lawyer in me.

Of course, if you can talk by Skype audio or video that would be the best.  More than 70% of our communication is non-verbal so being able to see the other person or hear pauses can make a huge difference to how well you both understand each other and plan for the breakup intelligently.

Want some help?

This is a toughie.  I’ve had these kinds of conversations for years as a consultant and it does take some practice and guidance to feel comfortable.  Early next year I’m rolling out a new service called a Sounding Board Session, as a way of giving some pointers on this or other client issues.

If you’d like one of my 5 beta seats, shoot me a note.  Thanks and Happy Holidays!

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