Yes, this did happen to me a few years back, but it has taken me this long to gain the space and perspective needed to write about it!
Fear, anxiety and panic are all the emotions I felt near the end of this client’s tenure.
So why did we hang in there tolerating behaviour that we would never accept from our 2-year old toddler on a bad day?
I can only say that as a business owner as well as fear, there were also spats of self-doubt…
Questions like ‘Have we really done enough?’, ‘Maybe If we just do this… it will make things better” and ‘How the hell will we replace them?” ran through my head simultaneously.
However the reality was (whilst playing in this negativity pit) that I was making zero profit (in fact on some days we paid them to work on their digital account). I lost a staff member who could not stand the pressure and bad manners any longer and our self esteem as an agency that prides itself on relationships and helping clients reach their full potential was going down the gurgler. As I write this it all seems so obvious now……. but at the time I felt like I was in a tumble dryer with no OFF button.
However, it was one rude, overly demanding client email ‘too much’ that was the tipping point. With renewed energy I knew my boundary had been crossed and suddenly, the exit strategy I had been subconsciously planning became an action plan and we were ready to go. It was important to me that this was done professionally, yes from a ‘NZ is a small village’ perspective but more importantly so my team could find strength again in this decision.
When I share this story, I am often asked if I would have done anything differently. My answer is NO but it would have been one hell of a lot quicker! The next question I am asked is how did I survive financially? Bizarrely they were replaced 2 weeks later by an accidental hook up with an old colleague…
So, would love to hear your tips and stories on ‘how to leave but still survive’ to support our fellow business leaders and community (with the full intention of course that this will never happen!).
Founder and Marketing Director of Energise and passionate marketer of Kiwi consumer brands