When to Say No to Work

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Have you ever said “No” to new business? It can be tough to do, but sometimes knowing when to say “No” to work can save or even make you money. In what circumstances should you turn down a new client or project?

We recently turned down a new client and sizeable project improving and updating two mobile applications and a web app. The issue wasn’t with the client: they provided source code, notes, were helpful in getting us the information we needed, and were completely able and willing to pay our full rate. They were timely in communicating to us, and followed up to make sure we had everything we needed.

The problem was that the web application was built using a language and framework which we are not only not unfamiliar with, we have absolutely no desire to learn. We hate turning down good projects, but we couldn’t see why the website was built this way in the first place, and it would be a nightmare to work with it. We could see every change going over budget and taking far too long. In addition, since it was a language and framework with which we didn’t want to work, it would have affected employee morale in a big way.

In the end, we decided to politely decline the entire project simply because we were not the best fit. We felt that the client could find someone with experience in that technology, a firm better suited to help them going forward. The potential client was very appreciative, and thanked us for being honest.

As hard as it was to turn down such a great potential client, we feel good knowing we haven’t over-extended ourselves.

For what resaons will you turn down work? Will you ever take a project or client even when you don’t have certain required experience, thinking you can learn it as you go? How has that worked out for you in the past?

Brandon EleyBrandon Eley
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Brandon Eley is the Interactive Director for Kelsey Advertising & Design and the co-author of Online Marketing Inside Out.

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