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No matter how a female entrepreneur runs her business, it’s possible that at some point, the relationship between her and a client will come to an end. Although most successful women will agree that they want to end things amicably, severing the working relationship may be tougher for some than for others.


A new study from Jane Out of the Box, an authority on women entrepreneurs, recently revealed there are five distinct types of women in business. Each of these five types has a unique approach to running a businessâ€"and as a consequence, each of them has a unique combination of characteristics that impact how she reacts to different situations. This article profiles three of the Jane “types” and the different ways they may handle firing a client â€" which can be difficult on many levels.


Jane Dough is an entrepreneur who enjoys running her business and makes good money. She is comfortable and determined in buying and selling, which may be why she’s five times more likely than the average female business owner to hit the million dollar mark. Jane Dough is clear in her priorities and may be intentionally and actively growing an asset-based or legacy business. It is estimated that 18% of women fall in the category of Jane Dough.


For Jane Dough, business is business. If a relationship isn’t working out, Jane Dough will end it â€" quickly and painlessly (for her). Because she is so clear in her priorities, if the results of a particular relationship aren’t lining up the way she wants them to, she’ll cut it off.


If you’re a Jane Dough, firing a “difficult” client won’t be personal. You won’t be upset about it, because you’d only fire a client if it wasn’t benefiting your business. You might even see the potential for staying friends with the client afterwards, because you’re very good at separating your business and personal lives.


Before you cut the cord, though, Jane Dough, make sure you really think about why the relationship isn’t working out.  Perhaps the problem isn’t the client â€" there could be a flaw (big or small) in your system that makes it difficult for your business to serve him or her. Or perhaps you’ve been moving too fast to give this client the proper amount of attention and his or her need for higher levels of service is the problem.  In this case, instead of firing the client, you might have an opportunity to upsell the client into a higher tier of service! You’re great at trusting the system you’ve created and the team you’ve put together. But when you’ve got a difficult client, and particularly if you have several, it’s worthwhile to take a closer look at what might be your company’s contribution to the dysfunction.  After doing so, if you decide that, in fact, the problem is only on the client’s side of the equation, challenge yourself to be kind when you deliver the news.  Not everyone is as direct as you are â€" and delivering bad news with grace can potentially turn a difficult situation into a positive experience of mutual understanding.  Done well, “firing a client” can actually increase the client’s respect for you and your company.   


Accidental Jane is a successful, confident business owner who never actually set out to start a business.  Instead, she may have decided to start a business due to frustration with her job or a layoff and decided to use her business and personal contacts to strike out on her own. Or, she may have started making something that served her own unmet needs and found other customers with the same need, giving birth to a business.  Accidental Jane enjoys what she does and is creating a satisfactory level of income.


As an Accidental Jane, you want to be in control of your own destiny, right? You are also a big believer in the importance of relationships in business.  When you have a difficult client, you will take the time to think about the situation from multiple angles, considering whether the situation can be repaired, how it might be fixed, and the effort it will require to do so.


When the scenario is simply a poor fit or when the client is abusive, you will have no difficulty setting boundaries with them, establishing consequences, and ultimately parting ways.  But when the client is a longer-term relationship that was successful in the past, letting the client go may be more difficult for you.  This may happen in Accidental Jane’s relationships when demands for her services increase and she no longer has as much time available to serve a long-standing customer.  Similarly, she may, out of loyalty, be offering better pricing to those who “gave her a chance” when she started.  As her business increases and she raises her rates, she may find this good relationship no longer lucrative.


When this happens, be willing to have a candid conversation with your customer about what your business needs.  When you outline what you need in order for the relationship to be a win/win, your client has the option to choose to meet your needs or not.  If they are unable to do so, it is easier to part on amicable terms because they get to be a party to the decision.


Tenacity Jane is an entrepreneur with an undeniable passion for her business, but who tends to be struggling with cash flow. As a result, she’s working longer hours, and making less money than she’d like. Nevertheless, Tenacity Jane is determined to make her business a success. At 31% of women business owners, Tenacity Janes are the largest single Jane type.


As her name implies, Tenacity Jane doesn’t want to give up. She may postpone firing a difficult client.  She may worry about letting go of the revenue the customer represents and be concerned about whether or not she’ll be able to replace that client.  She may try a variety of different tactics to improve the situation, possibly overestimating her own contribution and blaming herself or having self-doubt.  As a result, Tenacity Jane may attempt a several strategies to improve the situation, bending over backward â€" and some difficult clients will actually take advantage of that fact and abuse her sincere desire to provide a valuable product or service.


If you’re a Tenacity Jane it’s important to realize that difficult clients are not your fault!  You should honestly assess the situation and then be willing to let go and move on. Many of the Tenacity Janes we’ve interviewed say that having the courage to fire a difficult client was a true turning point in their business and enabled them to move into a much more financially successful phase of their business.


No business owner wants to fire a client. It’s difficult to accept that something just isn’t working out. But sometimes all you can do is to get out, and it proves to be best for both parties involved. Whether you’re a Jane Dough, an Accidental Jane or a Tenacity Jane, when it’s time to cut and run, you can do it. And you’ll be better off for it.


Interested in learning more about the five Jane types and which Jane you are? Check out


This Entrepreneurship article was written by Michele DeKinder-Smith on 11/18/2009

Michele DeKinder-Smith is the founder of Jane out of the Box, an online resource dedicated to the women entrepreneur community. Discover more incredibly useful information for running a small business by taking the FREE Jane Types Assessment at Jane out of the Box. Offering networking and marketing opportunities, key resources and mentorship from successful women in business, Jane Out of the Box is online at