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Is turning down business a good idea?


Karen Osman, founder of writing company Travel Ink, debates the benefits of saying no

January 22, 2014 2:37 by

There is no better feeling when all is going well in business – targets are achieved, your clients send you thank you gifts and you’re not spending valuable time chasing payments. These are the days when you look back and know you made the right decision on choosing the entrepreneurial life. But how long does it take to get to that point and is turning down business one of the ways to achieve this?

When you are starting up, there is a common consensus that any business is good business, and you will do anything and everything to achieve those crucial numbers. However, as your organisation grows and develops, trends will emerge, as your market demands new products and services. The ideal situation is to notice which pieces of business fall into the “high-revenue, easy-to-execute and enjoyable” category and then find more of the same. To allow scope for this to develop, it may be worth considering turning some projects down. There are many reasons to do this and it’s not a decision to be taken lightly – some projects may not be commercially viable or might require more complicated elements than your company is able to offer. Whatever the reason, focusing on good business is always good practice and will lead to a more stress-free entrepreneurial journey.

Here are some thoughts on when to say “no” and why it could be one of your best decisions yet:

The danger of compromising on customer service

As business owners, we’re always keen to accommodate clients in any way possible. Unfortunately, this can mean sourcing services that are not part of our business offering. Rather than trying to accommodate the client’s request, a referral to another organisation, which has experience in that particular field, will make you much more favourably remembered to the client, as opposed to a botched job as you attempt to take it on yourself. If there’s any danger of not being able to provide valued customer service, it’s best to say no.

Over-demanding and unrealistic

Unfortunately, there will always be customers who are constantly catching up with the market. Lack of planning, lack of experience, over-bearing management – whatever the issue, this type of client will cause untold havoc on your business as you strive to keep up with timeframes and deliverables that regularly go beyond scope. While it’s often solid business sense to accommodate the odd last minute request in the interests of good relations, if you find that it becomes the norm rather than the exception, it may be time to renegotiate the contract or say au revoir for good.

Like attracts like

The more projects you undertake that are enjoyable, commercially viable and suit your area of expertise, the more impressive your client portfolio becomes as glowing testimonials from happy clients flow in. This, in turn, can be used as solid examples to potential new clients. Ensure you spend as much of your time on this type of business to provide the best service – this is impossible to do if your time is taken up with other non-suitable business.


Never underestimate being nice

Often greatly under-valued, with possible connotations of boredom, being nice should never be considered a weakness. Yes, we’re keen to show off our expertise and our impressive work, but good manners, and generally being considered a decent person with some integrity, will go a long way in extending those much-sought after contracts. The same goes for clients – nice clients are worth their weight in gold and make communication easier, fun and transparent, and they build trust.

The power of saying no

It is a defining moment when you realise that you don’t have to accept all business offered to you. Only you will be able to judge whether what you are offering is right for the client. Ideally, you should be in a position to offer them alternative suggestions that will more than suit their needs. This makes for a win-win situation for both parties as the client will have their needs and objectives met successfully, leaving you to concentrate on the business you have chosen specifically knowing that you will always be able to come up with the goods.

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