Do You Know When to Walk Away?

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Knowing when to Hold ’Em or Fold ’em is the Key to Scaling your Business

Right up front, 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 and when to abandon them.

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 guaranteed.

In poker, it’s your cards and how you use them that determines 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 sometimes that unyielding desire to hang on to those aces can hurt you.

Aces can cloud your judgment 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.


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.

When a customer stops acting like a 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!

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 crucial to set limits for yourself, your employees, and your company.

Draw a mental line in the sand and do not stray from it.

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


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 terminated relationship isn’t a total loss.

In addition to freeing up some company bandwidth and eliminating a source of stress, 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.

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

So remember…

In the words of Sean Connery, the best Bond ever, (I’m prepared to fight you on this, BTW),

“A key to success is playing the hand you were dealt like it was the hand you wanted.”

Do that and you’ll be more than alright.

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