Quite some time ago I fired a client. The collaboration wasn’t working because we expected different things from the relationship. It happens.

It might be hard at first to stop work on a project, but there are some indications when it might be better for both parties involved to stop right now.

I asked some of my fellow entrepreneurs: “What are your signals it is time to say NO?” or in other words:

When do you feel it is time to take your paws off it?

Here is a list of signals entrepreneurs say that got them running for the hills:

Before starting the project:

  1. “I like what you do, but can you do it a lot cheaper”, “Poor budget”, “Any chance of a discount?” “My neighbour/family member can do it for next-to-nothing so please do it for that price, but with better quality” “Can I do it cheaper because I will get exposure for free once it is published”
    The list for these kind of answers goes on and on. When people want to pay peanuts but do not expect monkeys it is time to run away. Their list of demands will grow and grow while not wanting to pay a penny more. (Sure, there are always exceptions to this one, but please make sure that you are not being taken advantage off! )
  2. “If they describe themselves as fussy/hard to please”
    If they already tell you it is gonna be hard to please them, either charge double or run!
  3. “When people ask me to do something that is not my style but insist on using my name”
    We all have our moments where we do a project that really isn’t us, but we take it anyway. You may have additional demands for a project like that, like not showing your name with the project. If they do not agree on terms like that, don’t do it. Set the project free and it will find the right owner.

During the project:

  1. “When I dread thinking about it or dealing with it”
    Sure, we all have our offdays where we don’t feel like it. But if the whole project – EVERYTHING – is awful in your eyes, something is wrong. Time to cut it!
  2. “When clients keep on stalling”
    Every project has a deadline and while we would love to keep them, there are multiple reasons why it may not be done on time. Sometimes that is the clients fault, when you as an entrepreneur are in need of information from the client that you aren’t getting. That’s ok. But when it becomes a consistent pattern where you are waiting days on a small piece of information so you can go on, it might be time to cut them loose (after talking has failed).
  3. “When they don’t pay”
    I once had a client myself that was terrible at paying the bills. I would need to call, email, send letters, etc before getting my money, months after the invoice date. After a few invoices, all of which went in the same fashion, I told them they needed to pay upfront, or I wouldn’t do the assignments anymore. They refused to pay upfront and so I thought it was time to let go.

There can be numerous reasons to stop a project. And your reason might not be mine.

Hopefully it won’t happen to you too often, but if it already did:

When do you feel it is time to take your paws off it?