Opportunities: Letting Go & Saying No

It’s so easy to say YES YES YES to every paid opportunity that falls in your lap. It’s so hard to say no. But sometimes, you have to.

When someone wants to pay you for your work, it’s so exciting! Even when our guts are screaming STOP, we struggle with letting a good opportunity go when we should.

Why on earth would you turn down work?

Here are a few critical reasons:

  • You are too busy to do a good job (this just happened to me).
  • Your skill set is not a good enough fit to do a good job and you don’t have resources to learn, hire or outsource appropriately.
  • You need a team and don’t have a team.
  • The project is too small for your team.
  • The project is too big for you.
  • The client or project just doesn’t feel right – it’s not a fit.

This advice is most relevant if you are overworked or continually accepting the wrong projects.

Do NOT turn down the work if you need cash flow, if you are qualified for the job and have time, even if it’s not an ideal client. If you can do a good job – do it. You do need to grow from some experiences and pay the bills. Don’t broadcast illfit work though – you don’t want to attract more illfit work. But it’s TOTALLY okay to pay your bills, earn cash to buy an extra latte or purse or shoes, or heck… go on vacation.

Never take work you aren’t qualified to do. Don’t confuse lack of experience with lack of skillset though. Your confidence might make you confuse the two. If you can do the job, step up. If do not have the skillset or ability to learn it rapidly to serve the client well, step aside.

The truth is, most of the time, you have to leave room for the right clients, project and opportunities. If you continually take on the things you don’t like, don’t want or don’t fit, you’ll continually be too busy, too tired or too oblivious to the opportunities that do fit.

How to Have Integrity When You Turn Down an Opportunity

“It’s not you, it’s me!”

Truly, it’s like breaking up without hurting someone’s feelings. Except, if you really like the opportunity and it’s a timing thing… you might want to string them along (but don’t do that with an ex!).

It is important to navigate the opportunity waters with integrity for both you and the client you turn down or let go.

Try telling the truth. It’s that simple.

Recently I had to say no to a big national launch project (still feel a little ill about it). Why? I’m not big enough to ramp up and do the research required in the amount of time I have as a solopreneur. I have a big project due in a few months for contract client and the rest of my time I want to leave open for my superpeeps – the solopreneurs who thrive when they get a little boost of marketing mojo here and there in 2-10 hour increments! I told the truth. The response? Can we meet anyway and plan to use your time when your big project is done. Win!

Now, what if the truth is it’s not a fit?

If you feel a personality clash, a budget misalignment or other awkward pause in your processing of the opportunity, it’s time to tell the truth with a bit of a twist. It’s best to indicate the truth, it’s not a fit because “my time is available right now for clients with (insert type of project) and (insert type of budget)”. And then refer them to a trusted colleague or two. Never leave them hanging without any help if you can.

If you think this won’t happen to you, you are wrong. Because as you grow, you must craft strategies to leave room for what you need to grow successfully, or you will implode on ill-fit decisions.

Have you had any challenges being too busy or needing to make room for better fitting opportunities? Do tell!

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