The Most Important Word You Can Learn As An Entrepreneur: No

Learn to say no to clients who don’t value your work.

The Power of Saying No

It’s tough to say no as an entrepreneur, but it’s necessary. We really do only have so much time in the day, and when you put your energy on things that drag you down, your mind closes off from your full potential. You lose focus. You get negative. You lose the power to say “yes” to other things.

What “No” Can Do For You

Instead of saying “yes” to this bad project just for money, say no. Even if you’re losing money, use that time to do things like…

  • Reaching out to your network for opportunities
  • Reflecting on yourself and your business
  • Scoping out your business strategy
  • Relaxing! Take some time off you filthy workaholic!
Couldn’t help a Princess Bride joke.

How to Know If I Should Say No

Here are some questions to ask your clients to figure out if no is the proper response:

Q1: How much value (cost/time savings) will this have to your business?

If they truly believe in the project and value it, they will have a high value here. If you feel comfortable enough, price your services around this value by leaving some value for the client on top.

Q2: How high of a priority is this project for you?

If they say “not much” or “it’s on the back burner”, beware. They might not value your work because they don’t value the project.

Q3: My billing rate is ($XX/hour), and I think this project will take (XX hours). Would you be willing to put down a 30% deposit?

This is a biggy! If they wince at your price or deposit, beware (or… time to rethink your business strategy!) If they ask for a discount that is 30%+, don’t think for a second that this might lead to future business. If they don’t value your services now, they probably won’t in the future. If they ask for an “everything included” fee, make sure that it’s PLENTY in case of extra work. Sometimes a client does need a bit of a discount, and that’s okay. However, don’t break yourself to save your client money while you feel undervalued. If they’re way beneath you’re planned fee, don’t go down. Find another client. Just say no.

Don’t look at the lost (little) money. Look at your opportunities and sanity! :D

TL;DR — So no to bad projects/clients, even if it costs you money.

Ask good questions before taking on projects. Make sure your prospective client will value your work. Don’t underprice yourself to make a client happy.



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Nick Canfield

Nick Canfield

Founder of 📈Data geek. 💻Coder. 💼Entrepreneur. 🌊🌴Digital Nomad.