Such a simple statement. Such an underutilized instrument of change.

That plant on your bookshelf that you forgot to water? It died of neglect. That client that used to email you on weekends and you replied? Now they text you day and night with increasing intensity. Have you been procrastinating your price increases? Your profits are being whittled away.

We live in a world of react. Reacting removes your control and influence. As a business owner, you must retain control of your business and its service levels. A few rogue clients can tear you down and put you out of business before you even realize what is going on.

How does this happen?

It begins innocently enough under the guise of being responsive and providing great service. You started your business with a plan of how you will serve your clients and each service level has a defined price including an associated scope of work and support system. As you bring on new clients and you grow your revenue, it’s exciting and that builds positive momentum. Not long after launching my bookkeeping practice in 2008, I remember there was a moment of “WOW! I have a real business and I am making real money!!” And that spurred me on to keep my existing clients happy and to keep on bringing in new ones.

But I made a mistake.

I didn’t pay attention to growing the systems needed to support my business. Systems to manage my existing clients. Systems designed to trigger ‘out of scope’ price changes. Systems to indicate when I was reaching capacity.

My business was neglected.

I was giving attention to my demanding clients. Costs were growing at an alarming rate – somehow I needed every new app available even though I wasn’t taking the time to learn and leverage their power. I hired employees and hoped they would get the work done without the benefit of a defined training and support system. And my quality clients quietly left as I had taken them for granted.

One day, I looked around and realized…

This is not the business I dreamed of having. This is not the lifestyle I want to live.

And I stopped giving attention to the energy monsters that were consuming my time and money.

And I began giving attention to the areas of my business that I wanted to nurture and grow.

I called each of my valued clients and listened to what they valued and if it matched my values, I made promises to improve. If they did not, we made plans to disengage.

Next, I looked at my expenses and cancelled every subscription that was not being fully utilized. They were tough decisions, many arguments with myself about how much value the app “could” provide if I set it up correctly.

This process took time and I did not do it alone.

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