Letting Go


An interesting scenario played out this weekend at my church. Yes I said church in a blog, no you don’t have to run away screaming, I promise it won’t be preachy. Anyway, there was a man at our church this weekend, who was standing uncomfortably close to our stage. I take notice to this as my wife sings in the church band, and I noticed she was clearly shaken by this man. I began to watch his demeanor, to try and get some grasp as to in intentions. Was he simply a man who worshiped in a way that is uncommon in our church, or was there something else there? After watching him for a few minutes it was clear that he was under the influence of some sort of drug. It was a much more disconnected behavior than someone who is merely under the influence of alcohol. (Someone showing up to church drunk is a semi regular occurrence at our church. It’s the nature of our geographic area and the outreach that we do.)

The question arose in my mind, at what point and time do we intervene. When do we ask him to leave? Is it enough that he’s making people uncomfortable or do we have to wait for signs of danger? After discussing the situation with a police officer who attends the church the choices were clear. We could interact with him, make him feel welcome, and ensure that his demeanor didn’t change from something uncomfortable to something dangerous, or we could call the police (though unless he was threatening to harm himself, they would only be able to take him to jail). You certainly don’t want to be known as the church that sent someone to jail. So what do we do? When do we decide to act? How do we know it’s time to let go? In business these situations arise as well. I’m going to look at 3 such situations and help you decide when to let go.

Letting Go of an Employee

pink slip

In the story at the beginning I discussed being made uncomfortable verses being in danger. This can be a narrow line when dealing with an employee. Now I’m not talking about in a physical sense, obviously if an employee is making people uncomfortable our feel they are dangerous it is time for them to go. But what if they make you feel uncomfortable about your business. What if they have ideas that seem to go a different direction than what you envision for your company?

There is a thin line you have to walk here. Just because an employee has ideas that seem outside of your boundaries doesn’t mean they won’t be a great fit. These can be some of your most valuable assets. If you have an employee that is willing to challenge the status quo, and ask the tough questions, they can help your business grow by leaps and bounds.

The line you have to draw is when the challenging is no longer done out of respect. If they are challenging you personally, or outright ignoring your direction for the company, it’s time to let go. Nothing can drag a business down faster than an employee that is a divisive force.

Letting Go of a Product / Service

This one can be a tough one. We all have products or services that we offer, and we all have to adapt and change occasionally. Unless you’re Coca Cola, please don’t ever try and change again… So how do you know it’s time to let a product or service go?

This one is a little bit clearer. Talk to your staff. They will offer you the best insight into what is working and what isn’t. Just because something is profitable doesn’t mean it’s good for business. If you are making a profit at the expense of your employees’ sanity, you will see a move to higher turnover and employee burnout.

That’s not to say you can’t keep offering that product or service, but if your staff is at their wits end trying to produce for you, you need to find another way to make it happen. It might be new equipment, or more employees, or it may just be time to let it go.

Letting a Customer Go

This is the hardest one for most people to do. Customers are the lifeblood of your business and without them you’d be sunk. But how do you know when it’s time to let a customer go?

When they are a drain on your staff.

Have you ever dreaded a call from a client? You know the client I’m talking about, that when their name shows up in the caller ID your staff hides under their desks. It might be time to examine whether the stress they put your staff under is worth the money they bring in. Some may be worth it, some should probably be dealt with by the business owner / president, and some should be let go.

When they are a drain on your resources.

Have you ever had a client that seems to find every loop hole imaginable? The client that always seems to get something for free? I’m not talking about the client that is good at negating. I’m talking about the one that insists there are errors in even the most perfect project. I’m talking about the one that threatens to leave your business twice per project unless they get everything for free. It’s probably best to let go, believe me you’ll be better off.

Letting go is Freeing


Marketing your business takes a cohesive approach, and sometimes you have to let go of pieces of your business in order to grow, to remain cohesive in your overall message.

Letting go can be one of the best decisions you ever make. It can be freeing, and it can keep your business on track and moving forward. However, it’s not a decision you should ever take lightly. If you began to make this decision to often, and without fully considering the consequences, you will see your business start to suffer. Your employees will no longer trust you, your customers will be running from the hills and your product and service offering can be way to narrow and not competitive.

Remember, each time you make a decision to let go, that you must consider every side of the equation, but sometimes you just have to trust your intuition. That’s what got you where you are today.

Categories: Business