Seven Reasons Turning Down Potential Clients Helps Your Business Succeed
Regardless of your creative side hustle and offerings, I’m sure it could easily eat up a lot of your time. For me, if I’m not careful about boundaries, I’m so passionate about what I do that I could work all day long. That’s a lot of time away from my family and that’s not really how I want to spent my life. The whole goal (for me) of having a creative side hustle is to bring more joy into my life, whether that’s through projects I’m passionate about, new opportunities, or earned income to pay for things I want. Why would you waste any of that time, energy, and passion on something that’s going to be anything less than a blast? You wouldn’t. Except that sometimes, a lot of us do.
It can be easy, especially at the beginning of your side hustle career, to eagerly accept any and all invitations for work or for collaboration. Doing SOMETHING feels more purposeful than waiting around for the dream projects to come rolling in. There is some truth to that, but to avoid quickly feeling burnt out and dejected about your choice of creative pursuits, I’d actually recommend turning some of those down.
Today, I wanted to share some “rules of thumb”, if you will, about turning down potential clients that don’t fit in alignment with the types of projects you dream of attracting. I’m sharing seven reasons why it’s actually a good thing to turn away business and forfeit that potential revenue, and the ways I truly believe it will benefit your business in the long run:
Turning away clients that you can tell don’t fit your aesthetic will save you loads of time, even just in communication. I’ve had clients approach me before who I knew didn’t value my services, or wanted something I wasn’t confident I could offer to their specifications, and for whatever reason, I took them on. It took me several more attempts than usual to start to understand the look they were going for with their design, and that’s time I could have spent on a whole additional project, earning double the revenue. And when push comes to shove, sometimes I have to let a client go even though I’m halfway through the project. That means I forfeit all that potential revenue, but it also classifies the time I did spend working on that project as a waste of my valuable, limited time. I’m still learning, but over the years I’ve gotten better and better and identifying these non-ideal clients in advance and turning them away before even starting their project.
Being able to identify clients who will never be satisfied or who don’t value your time is crucial when you’re offering physical products that require both your time and energy, but also physical resources of any sort. When you attempt to work with these clients, you may end up using more than the normal, allocated amounts of goods, effectively decreasing your profit and potentially throwing your paycheck right out the window, before you even know it. It might be a good idea to create some sort of questionnaire for clients prior to their inquiry with you to determine whether you’re a good fit for their project or not. Regardless of how you ward against wasting your source materials, it’s one of the most valuable resources you can save by not working with a less-than-ideal customer. Also, it helps you keep your costs down for all of your products if you’re not having to use them to compensate for the cost of abandoned projects.
If your clients are public or if it’s easy to see who you turn away and why, it will help set the tone that you value your products and services, and customers should, too. Turning away that potential business actually increases your perceived value, because people know that you’re elite, and if they want to work with you, they have to make sure they’re meeting your level of requirements. You don’t want to make yourself or your products aloof or unattainable, but I wholeheartedly believe that you can professionally and courteously direct a potential client somewhere else when you can tell that they may take advantage of your time or resources.
Especially for me, as I’m working with a group of assistants, it’s important to bring in fun, uplifting projects that I know everyone will have a great time working on. If there is ever a frustrating client, it would impact the way I speak about them to my assistants and the way I feel about the project. Ain’t nobody got time for negativity in a high-productivity, low free-time work environment like Bloom haha. I like to only bring on projects that will spark our creativity or help us feel accomplished and proud, because there is nothing worse than finishing a beast of a project and realizing it’s not anywhere close to something you’d want to include in your portfolio.
Maintaining a strict standard of projects and customers you’ll advertise to helps you get confident in your marketing and communication, and simultaneously avoid burnout. If you’re always trying to appeal to everyone, there’s a good chance a good majority of people are going to be unhappy with SOMETHING you’re doing. But if you’re targeting your efforts to the exact target audience that would most appreciate your goods or services, you’ll see continued success, and that will keep your attitude soaring. Burnout is a very real issue with small business owners, and it’s so important to maintain a positive attitude about what you do and to create boundaries and limits with who you work with and how long you work.
This isn’t necessarily a direct contribution to your business’ success, but turning away clients who you know wouldn’t be satisfied at the end of the project, or who you can tell would be difficult to work with, saves their time and money as well as yours! Besides wanting to just do something nice for your potential clients as humans, and protecting them from wasting their money, this will help your business gain a reputation for being honest and professional, especially if you create a list of other people you can refer clients to when you know you won’t be a good fit. Become a resource instead of a wall, shutting clients and customers out.
Last but not least, I want you to practice turning away clients who don’t see your true value because it helps you as an entrepreneur learn how to value your time and to maintain a discipline in your creative offerings. Streamlining your business and avoiding distractions or detours in your journey to success is going to bring you higher profitability and chances for growth. Entrepreneurism is an uphill climb, but they say the view from the top is glorious, and I’ve got faith I’ll get there if I just keep at it.
I hope this post leaves you with a renewed desire to strive for more success with your creative business. Remember that you are more than your worst review from a dissatisfied client — in fact, I’d reckon that you’re more than even your BEST review! You are a rockstar, and you can do this.
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