6 Times When You Should Turn Down Work From A Client

When you’re self-employed, the idea of turning down work can feel like a foreign concept. Your entire goal of being in business is to actually get business. However, sometimes a new client isn’t always a good opportunity for you. In fact, they could even end up hindering the growth of your business. Fortunately, there are definitely some warning signs to look for when bidding on new contracts. Below, you’ll find six instances where it may make more sense in the long run to consider passing on that new client.


1. The project is too big for your company to handle

Sometimes, getting yourself in over your head can be a good thing. Taking on a job that will push your creative boundaries can help you improve your overall quality of work and help your business grow. There’s a point, however, when that big job gets too big, and there’s no realistic way that you’ll be able to deliver what the client wants in the timeframe they’re looking for or with your immediate resources.

When this happens, the best course of action is to be honest, both with yourself and with the potential client. A good client will be appreciative of the fact that you respect them enough to not waste their time, and may even bring you more manageable projects in the future because of it.

2. The project is too small for your company to handle

The same principle above can be applied to smaller jobs as well. If the effort to produce a product or service outweighs the monetary cost, it’s better to pass on the opportunity. Use that time instead to work on marketing your services, updating your marketing materials and honing your craft. When it comes to smaller deals, sometimes taking the energy you’d spend working on that project may be better spent doing work that will help you create better sales opportunities in the future.

3. The client has no interest in your input

While dealing with a client who “knows that they want” is certainly a boon, you also don’t want to work with clients who aren’t open to your expertise. If you’re a web designer, you’ll find there are plenty of people out there who can take a picture and turn it into a website. However, as an expert you have have insight to other factors that your client may not be aware of. Your clients should be interested in you and what you bring to the project creatively. If your input is going to be constantly ignored, chances are high that the end result is going to be something you won’t want to put your name on, anyway.

4. It’s clear that the client will be difficult to deal with

Let’s be honest – there are times when you have one phone call with a client and just know that what follows is going to be an endless hassle. Maybe the client gets defensive whenever their ideas are questioned, or maybe they’re already convinced that they know more than you do about your own job. Even worse – they already have considerably unrealistic expectations.

The added time spent dealing with these extra issues will not be worth the money in the end. A difficult working relationship at the beginning of the job will only get worse, and no good can come of it. Your best bet is to walk away.

5. You’d be doing the job for far less than your usual rate

Would you be willing to take a 10% pay cut to land a job? 20%? How about 30%? While it may be tempting to lower your price if it looks like that could seal the deal, doing so can hurt your business in the long run. Lowering your asking price is tantamount to admitting your work isn’t worth what you charge. If you don’t respect your work enough to charge what it’s worth, how can you expect your client to respect it?

Additionally, accepting a job at a low price can lead to a cycle where the first cheap job leaves you in a position where you need money and are forced to underbid on another job, thus restarting the cycle. Charge a fair price for your expertise and knowledge, and stick to that price, even if it means you lose a few potential sales.

6. In the same time frame, you could complete several smaller jobs for more money

Landing that big client can be a great feeling, but before you commit, think about the time investment and what that will mean for your company. A larger time commitment to one client means less time for other clients, and sometimes that’s a trade that someone who’s self-employed just can’t make.

Will you have to turn down other jobs for the next few weeks or even months to focus all your resources on your big job? Is it wise to spend a month on a $5,000 job when using those same resources you could have finished a $2,000 job every week? Consider these things before you sign on.
These are just some of the things that you should think about when negotiating with new clients. Do you have your own set of red flags? Let us know about them in the comments below!

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