Why It’s OK to Say No to New Clients, New Projects

Sep 01

Early in my career, I said yes to every project and new client that came my way. I was young, an entrepreneur, and I had everything to prove – including to my now former spouse that this new venture was not a hobby. I was building my public relations and freelance writing business.

Most of the time, yes was a good thing. I learned how to execute a communications audit of a multinational textile firm even though I’d never done one. Huge success.

I said yes to managing media relations at an international trade show in Dusseldorf for a global packaging client. Big challenge. Exciting. Great press.

And I said yes to clients and projects I really didn’t want to do. And it likely showed.

Why did I do that? Why does anyone accept work they instinctively know is not a good fit or runs counter to their ethics or, or, a million other twinges and warning signs that whisper “no” in your soul as your mouth says “yes.”

Part of the motivation was pride. The other part was the realities of owning one’s own business. I had people to pay. Insurance premiums. Rent. Family to support. A house payment. And, I had this ego that said, “I can do anything!”

Until I couldn’t.

A devastating loss, the loss of a child, finally made me realize that saying no is good. Work is not the be all, end all. Striving to do it all was meaningless in the face of loss. That time doing work for clients I didn’t believe in, a product I had no faith in or a cause I didn’t support would be better spent on people I loved, hobbies I enjoyed, and quite simply, taking better care of myself.

I recently interviewed a company founder who relayed how many friends, relationships, and even family members that were lost along the way of the entrepreneur’s journey. I could feel a sense of loss in the founder’s voice. I winced. Been there, done that.

I am here today to say that it is OK to turn down work, to say no to potential clients that are not a good fit or just simply don’t sit well with your gut. It’s OK to walk away even if you need the work. It’s OK to have free time on your hands and a little less money in the till.

You only get one chance at life. Family is important. Kids are precious; they need your presence whether they say so or not.  Personal relationships need tending. Your time with yourself to address  health and happiness are paramount. Choose wisely. Say yes with enthusiasm. Say no without guilt or regret.

Believe in the companies and people you work for. Totally. Passionately. And without question. Be your best for the “yeses” in your life.

Above all, have faith in yourself. There’s always another client, another deal, another way to make a buck.

Let’s chat some time. Email melanie@lux-writes. Text 803.331.4794. Yes? No?


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