Know When to Hold ‘em, Know When to Fold ‘em

Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em…

I’m no Kenny Rogers fan, but he definitely got that line right.

At its most basic level, the game of poker is all about knowing when to keep your cards versus when to abandon them.

And in many ways, I find business to be a lot like poker—every decision is a calculated risk. Not every risk pays off, some cost you dearly, and even those bets that have a 99% chance of paying out aren’t airtight.

In poker, it’s your cards (and how you use them) that determine whether you win or lose.

In business?—it’s your customers.

Customers are a deck of living, breathing cards. And like any deck of cards, some of your customers are going to be aces and some are going to be jokers, with the vast majority falling somewhere in between.

Aces are the Holy Grail. They’re trump cards that provide lots of staying power and big time rewards when used properly. So—if you’re lucky enough to get a few in your hand—you generally want to hold onto them for dear life.

But every so often that unyielding desire to hang on to those aces can hurt you.

Aces can cloud your judgement and make a hand seem stronger than really is. And that illusion can deceive you into making a stupid decision you’ll soon regret.

Which is why sometimes you need to fold your aces.

As an owner, there will be occasions where “folding” a client becomes necessary, no matter how great (and profitable) they’ve been for business.

Here’s why…

Remember, the customer-company relationships is just that…

A relationship.

It’s not a dictatorship where one-party gets to rule with exclusivity over the other, it’s a mutually beneficial exchange…a partnership.

And when a customer stops acting like partner and starts seeing things through a one-way lens, it’s time to consider terminating the relationship for the greater good of your business.

Now, this isn’t a license to throw customer service to the wind—far from it!

Customer service is HUGELY important!

And as a business owner, you should take every reasonable measure to deliver on a client’s request. After all, they ARE giving you their hard-earned money.

But there are times when a relationship is simply a bad fit.

That’s why it’s absolutely crucial to set limits for yourself, your employees, and your company—a line in the sand where you say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t think we can continue to do business together” if crossed.

Saying goodbye to an overly-demanding customer will sting in the short-term because you’re intentionally letting revenue walk out the door, but in the long-run it will pay off in eliminated hassle, eliminated stress, and time saved.   

Turn a negative into a positive

When you ARE forced to fold on a client—and if you’re an entrepreneur growing a business, this will happen with more often than you think—don’t despair!

The now terminated relationship isn’t a total loss.

In addition to the company bandwidth you’ve freed-up and the stress you’ve eliminated, intentionally parting ways with a customer is an incredibly valuable learning experience.

Make sure you extract at least one lesson, even a small one, from the failed partnership and use that lesson to build a better business tomorrow.

Learn enough of those lessons over a long enough timeline and that business you’ve been building will evolve into a powerhouse.

So remember…

When it comes to running your business, know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.

Do that and you’ll be more than alright.