It can be tempting, especially when you are first starting out, to take on every client that comes your way. However, not every opportunity will benefit your business equally, and sometimes it can be better to walk away. Find out when and how you should say no to new business.
The timing is off
If you aren’t confident in your ability to dedicate enough time and effort to a job, it may be better to simply say, ‘Yes, but not at this point in time’. Expressing your interest while being honest about your workload will avoid damaging your reputation when it turns out you can’t deliver.
You don’t have the skills or expertise
If a prospective client has asked you to undertake a task that you don’t currently have the skill set for, it might be best to refer them to a peer. In cases like this, it’s often better to admit you’re out of your depth than to take it on and disappoint.
They don’t know what they want
If a prospective client is unable to properly express their wants and needs, you may be better off not taking the job. If they don’t have a clear idea, then chances are neither can you. This can quickly lead to miscommunication and can cause major difficulties in the development and execution phase of the project.
Your values don’t align
If the client is requesting something you feel uncomfortable doing, or that may be in breach of any laws, it’s probably safer to stay away. In these situations, you can usually trust your gut feeling. In any case, you should avoid getting into partnerships with clients who could harm your reputation or integrity.
They don’t have the budget
If a client requests an immense discount, suggests an evasive payment plan or upfront services, it could raise a red flag. Make it clear how much you and your other clients value your business and work. If they can’t afford your services, you shouldn’t feel obliged to take on their work.
A tactful no can reaffirm your reputation as much as signing a new client. That’s why it’s important to do it the right way. You don’t want to appear harsh or hesitant. Remember to be polite and respectful and clearly explain why you are turning them down. If possible, suggest alternatives or refer them to your peers.