Smart Growth: Fewer Clients Can Lead to Profits

Have you ever fired a client? If you’re new to business you might think that this would be a crazy thing to do, but ask some more seasoned business owners and almost everyone has a story about how they had to cut a high-maintenance client loose.

The other day I was talking with some fellow business owners and one of the group shared that she had done exactly that. This woman had done some real soul-searching, which resulted in her restructuring her business and letting 30% of the clients go. At first those of us in the conversation were all kind of surprised by this woman’s audacity in firing all of those clients, but then she reminded us of the 80/20 rule. In her case, 80% of her profits were coming from 20% of her clients, so letting the less profitable ones go actually significantly increased her profitability – that all important bottom line.

And here is the part of the story that is really interesting. When this person fired all of those clients her business revenue – her top line numbers – took a nosedive. Some of the clients she was releasing were really very large accounts. But despite the temporary reduction in revenues what she found was that, at the end of the day, her profitability was up more than 50%!

“I think one of the hardest parts about this restructuring,” she shared, “had to do with my own ego. Everyone likes to say that they have a company of a certain size or X-million-dollars in revenue, but if you’re not all that profitable then it really doesn’t matter.”

Another friend of mine ended up letting her largest client – Walmart – go, after experiencing years of intense pricing pressure and many “logistical hoops” from the behemoth organization.

I know that making that decision wasn’t easy for this friend, but although her overall volume is down, she too has experienced increased profitability and – also importantly – she also seems a lot less stressed these days, too.

When considering the smartest way to grow your business, there really is a lot more to look at than just sales volume. It’s about not only knowing your numbers but also about knowing which of those numbers really matter the most to get you to the fastest -and smartest- growth.

Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit.  Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: A Three-Step Formula for Turning Your Daydream Into a Phenomenal Success, will be released early 2018. To find out more about how you can use video as a smart tool to grow your business visit our website.

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