said 1 year, 1 month ago:
I also run a web design/marking firm in a small community (Maine) and I’ve felt the same way that you do, afraid to burn any bridge for fear of my reputation.
However, you also don’t want to develop a reputation as a pushover, either.
@diannebeatoncgacaps is right in that you have to have a frank conversation with them. It’s also OK to fire a client. As we’ve grown, we’ve done it.
Let them know that success isn’t guaranteed, but if they follow your suggestions, they will greatly increase their chances of success. If they aren’t willing to take those actions or pay you to do so, gently tell them that you don’t feel you’re a good fit for them any more.
If you do have to fire someone for not being a good client, don’t try and help them find another vendor, especially in a small community. That’s the equivalent of selling someone a lemon (car). Your fellow web developers will never forget.