The most important thing in a business relationship, or any relationship really, is communication, and this should begin before you even start working with someone.
Firstly, you need to manage expectations. You don’t need to work with everyone, so if someone approaches you as a potential client, make them work for that. Have a quick, conscious conversation with them to make sure you’re on the same page and understand what you’re both trying to achieve.
This is a qualification process that will allow you up front to understand the business relationship you’re getting into, and ensure you’re both a good fit to work together.
Now the business relationship is established, always maintain clear and honest communication.
You need to give them space to tell you if something’s not working for them. Even though it may hurt you to hear it, you want them to feel they can have the fierce conversations with you, and then tell them “I’m glad you said that”.
If someone doesn’t feel like you’re listening or understanding them, or reacting constructively to their feedback then they won’t stick around as a client.
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