I'm utterly relieved a client relationship ended today. Why? Because this client did not empower me to help her grow her business. There is sickness in her business, and that sickness meant I couldn't achieve the greatest results possible for her.
She was one of the remaining clients for whom I provided hands-on social media management. (My business is transitioning to true marketing consulting work, where I act as an adviser to my clients who execute the courses of action we mutually agree upon or hire support staff to carry them out.) And I really loved the idea of what she wanted to do with her work, and I sincerely wanted her to do well and for my work to bring her business. But she just didn't empower me with the tools I needed to do the best job for her. She spent more time judging and nagging over my emotional (or unemotional) responses to her than she spent answering my questions. I wish her the best of luck working with the person she's transferring care of her social media to, but I doubt they'll see any results until she addresses the sickness in her business.
I've dealt with a few clients, like this one, and worked for businesses that experienced stunted growth; it can usually be attributed to a sickness in the business that starts with the business owner. A business owner can recognize if their business is sick by looking for these symptoms:
Failing to Prioritize Your Business
If you're working part- or full-time to fund your business, that's great. It's awesome to be practical enough to do this. Still, you have to make your business a priority, especially if the end goal is to make your business your primary source of income.
It's a wonderful thing to provide freelance, part-time or full-time work to support staffers, consultants, and the like. But you can't expect them to operate completely independently of you. Make time to talk with them frequently. Prioritize their emails. Read and fully respond to their needs.
All of that said, if you still just literally do not have the time or energy to attend to your business after all part- or full-time jobs you've taken on, after spending time with family and friends, and after anything else, you have to really evaluate your life.
Is the business something you're really committed to? Should you give up a part-time job and sacrifice a few of the hours you've been paying a VA for? Do you have to apologize to your honey for your absence over the next few months to a year?
If you find yourself struggling to make your business a priority but you know you don't want to give it up, get help from a professional organizer who can help you learn time management. Or some other form of help.
Mistaking Working In Your Business as the Most Valuable Work
There are two sides to running a business: working in it and working on it. Working in it involves things like serving clients, manufacturing and shipping goods, and more. Working on your business entails keeping track of the bigger picture, planning strategies and initiatives, and doing things that bring in business (overall, the marketing work). You can employ support staff for both sides of this coin, but you as the business owner have to have a really clear view of and role in both.
Expecting a Level of Care/Passion/Devotion from Team Members That You Don't Show Your Own Business or Your Team Members
If you're judging someone on your team for not caring, lacking passion or failing to show devotion to your business, take a closer look at what's happening in your own efforts toward your business, your interactions with them and their responses to their actions and their verbalized needs. You may find that they don't see you working on/in your business or that they feel undervalued, unsupported and unheard. And it's totally possible you're not showing your business enough care, passion or devotion. You must empower others to serve your business, and part of that is by example.
Not Supporting Your Support Staff
They'll tell you what they need if you let them. Are you listening? Are you attending to their needs as much as reasonably possible? When you want your marketing person to bring you business, are you empowering them to do so by giving them a clear picture of the offers they can make? Don't promise to provide support and fail to follow through. Or at least, if you don't follow through, don't blame your support staff when they aren't getting you the results you desire.