I once gave a talk to a group of independent consultants about how losing a big client can be a good thing. I’ve been thinking about the topic a lot lately as I see more and more people lose jobs or clients, or feel the pinch of shrinking marcomm budgets. As many of us cope with one form of loss or another, it’s a good time to revisit how solopreneurs and small business owners can turn this around and create opportunities for ourselves.

So here are my top five reasons why losing work can work out for you:

1. You have to figure out what went wrong. Unless you screwed up, it likely has nothing to do with you. And that’s helpful to understand (and, if you screwed up, it’s important to recognize that and resolve not to make the same mistakes again). I once lost a great client when her company was bought out in a $9.8 billion acquisition deal; another client, when his departmental budget was cut.

2. It forces you to evaluate your existing client relationships. Are you coasting comfortably along or have you asked your clients for feedback? When things are going well, it is easy to become complacent. Losing work ends that illusion, and reminds you that it might be wise to make sure your perception of the work relationship meshes with theirs.

3. It frees up your time. Okay, stick with me here. I know you don’t want this free time, but what can you do now for your business that you didn’t have time to do before? I focused some time on better understanding social media, and I started this blog, during a slow period last summer.

4. It brings new urgency to business development. If you’re like many solopreneurs and small business owners, your new business efforts are inversely proportional to the time spent on existing client work. There’s nothing like a revenue dip to focus your attention on the business side of your business.

5. You get to test new business ideas. This goes hand-in-hand with #4. Every change in my business strategy has come after the loss of a big client. While that’s probably not a big surprise, here’s what might be: I was relieved to be free to try something new. As a result, I’ve been able over the years to expand my business from public affairs to include strategy and marketing communications offerings.

There’s one more reason why I’m big on loss as opportunity: I started my business after I lost a full-time job.

So what have I left out? How did losing a client or a job help you?

Photo by Vik Nanda (Flickr).

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