When you need to say “no” to more clients (Reading Time 1 min 25 sec)

When you started your business, you tried a lot of things before you found what people would pay you for, that you’re good at, and that you enjoy. There aren’t many businesses I work with who still pursue the business idea and model they first started with. 

So you try things, and you find clients. When they say “Do you do ______?” You say “yes” a lot, and pretty soon you can pay your mortgage—maybe you can even earn a nice salary. 

But this process teaches us bad habits. 

Saying “yes” a lot enables us to pay our bills, but it gets us into a bunch of assignments that don’t pay us very well (because we are learning as we go along) and get us into doing things we don’t like to do. So we’re busy but unhappy (and still likely working too hard).

Once your business is past the survival phase, you need to focus to grow. 

Ideal Client Venn Diagram

If there are things that folks are asking you to do that you’ve never done before — you need to say no. You aren’t going to make money doing one-off projects where you are learning as you go.

If there are things that folks are asking you for that you’re not making good money at, you need to raise your prices.

But the hardest one is things that you are good at, and that make you money, but that you don’t love. You have to start to say no to those too. (Saying yes is a road to burnout.)

Growth looks like saying “no” to a lot of things that you aren’t an expert in, that you don’t enjoy and that don’t pay well so you can do more of the one (or maybe two, or three) things that you are amazing at, that people rave about, and that you can get paid really well for!

Making that shift, from “what can I get paid to do” to “what do I enjoy, do well and can get paid well for” is essential to making the shift from survival to growth. 

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