Losing a big client actually launched my freelance writing career, but not all stories end as well as mine did. Today, I try to make sure the income I receive is spread across more clients so I don’t get into that situation again. You can’t always help it when one big client starts to contribute a large chunk of your income — but what happens if you lose that client?
You can be prepared. This situation is one that we should all consider in our plans.
It takes little effort to get so wrapped up in your work that you neglect your business’ big picture. You stay busy meeting your clients’ needs and handling administrative tasks. Don’t take the chance that a client suddenly goes out of business or lets go of consultants to bring all of the work in-house, leaving you with a huge drop in income. Plan ahead.
- Make marketing a regular part of your job: Whether you’re a one-person business or five, marketing remains key to averting “slow times.” It takes time to build relationships and turn those relationships into clients. This includes speaking, using social networks, sending email newsletters, and doing all the other things mentioned in the next section.
- Keep current clients happy: It costs more time and effort to convert a new client than to keep current ones. Just because you’re doing a project with an actual start and finish doesn’t mean you don’t have future opportunities with the client. Maybe the client will know someone in another department that needs you or new projects pop up.
- Review your client list: Take a look at your client list and determine how much of your income each brings. Lopsided figures can mean trouble. Address the problem now, rather than waiting until disaster occurs.
- Collect testimonials: Sometimes a client will give you feedback on the great job you did. Ask if you can publish that as a testimonial. If not, ask for a testimonial you can use.
Be Ready to React
You can find yourself in a situation where you’ve lost a big client without planning for the loss. This could even compel you to think that maybe it’s time to give up your business and return to a regular paying job that means commuting again. This happened to me when I had just begun my freelance writing career. I took a risk by sending an email to connections and received two new gigs, one of which I still have today — the decision paid off. Since we can’t always plan and anticipate the situation, we can plan how we’ll handle the situation, should it ever happen.
The key to reacting is to crank up the marketing gear. Put as much time into marketing as you can, even if you’re still not officially done with the client. Yes, you’ll need to work extra hours, but it’s a temporary sacrifice. Marketing efforts don’t lead to instant new clients. It takes time to ramp up and put your business out there. If you already make marketing a regular part of your job, you’re ahead of the game, and just need to build on it.
- Send email newsletters: If you don’t already publish email newsletters, start now. A good rule of thumb is to use 80 percent content offering value to the reader and 20 percent promoting your business.
- Offer to do guest blogging: Get your name out there in other blogs that speak to your market. Having your own blog helps, but potential clients may not have found their way there.
- Participate in social networks: If you don’t already do this daily, now’s the time to pick it up. We offer plenty of ways for businesses to take advantage of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.
- Cross-post everywhere: This simply refers to mentioning your blog and social media accounts in your email newsletter, and vice versa. If you have a blog, offer different ways for readers to receive updates. It amazes me how many blogs don’t offer email updates, and it’s usually just a matter of turning on the option.
- Look for speaking opportunities: Speakers gain almost instant credibility.
- Teach classes: You can teach an online class through a webinar or go to your community to find opportunities.
Many businesses flourish — even in rocky times — by never taking their success for granted. Never assume that one big client will always be there for you.
How do you ensure you your business keeps on keeping on?
Photo credit: rt1352