Turning down business is good for business


[tweetmeme source=”lovestats” only_single=false]Have you ever done it? Turned down business? Said no to a paying job? Saying “No” is difficult for many people but there is definitely a place for it in the business world.

When you’re a small or new company, there are a few types of jobs that even you must turn down.

  • Jobs that are simply unethical. That’s easy. For example, a child targeted suicide survey which has no provisions for the child to receive emergency intervention, or a survey intended to measure racial hatred but appears but to incite hatred.
  • Jobs that don’t reflect a minimum standard of quality. Stop complaining about 50 item grids and 90 minute surveys and do something to stop them. Refuse them. Prove you are an expert by sticking to your high standards.
  • Jobs that are outside your expertise. If you’ve never done a focus group before, now is not the time to fail. You need to build your reputation, not tear it down. Give your potential client a recommendation to someone who specializes in that work. They will thank you for it.
  • Jobs that pay way too little and take time away from finding great jobs. Sure you could take that $500 analysis that you will learn nothing from and die of boredom doing, but couldn’t you better spend that time closing the $5000 deal that will showcase your unique skills.

Just because you say no doesn’t mean you should just close the door though. Suggest how to shorten the survey or how to improve the question wording or but if those suggestions are refused, then it’s your turn to refuse too.

When you’re a large or established company, you should still turn down those jobs and it should be an easy decision. But now, you have the luxury of turning down other types of jobs.

  • Jobs that offend your personal morals. Though it’s not necessarily unethical to work on alcohol or tobacco or ‘adult’ projects, you have the right to choose to work on jobs that don’t keep you awake at night and that make you proud to talk to your kids about. If you have to convince yourself that you’re ok doing research in the ‘riske’ areas, those jobs aren’t for you.
  • Difficult clients. The ones who drain you emotionally with unrealistic timelines, goals, requirements, or personalities. Buh. Bye.
  • Boring jobs that just fill your time. You’ve done a million U&As and you’re no longer learning anything from them. Your time is much better spent elsewhere.

How can it be good business to turn down business? There are lots of inter-related reasons.

  • If you focus on your skills, clients will see this and appreciate the quality of the work they are getting. They will be more likely to use your services again and more likely to recommend you to their colleagues. Your reputation as a expert in your field will grow. More jobs, more relevant and interesting jobs, will come your way.
  • You will be a happier person. Choosing jobs that fit your lifestyle and your skills make for a happy camper. There is nothing worse that trying to fill an eight hour work day doing something you hate or that bores you to tears. A happy researcher means better quality work, a prouder you, and a happier family too. The happier family is where you should take particular note. Are you bringing home happiness or annoyance?

But what about the job you just turned down?! Now a competitor will take it and their business will grow! My take? So what. You’re too happy and too busy to notice.

Do it. Just say no.

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  • 4 responses

    1. Thank you for this! There is so much pressure on small businesses to take every client that comes along and to keep them even when the going gets tough! Pressure from finances, spouses and partners, contacts and yourself…

      I did not start my own marketing consultancy to feel sick when a client name came into my inbox and to constantly kowtow to unreasonable requests. So I don’t. Not now, anyway.

      But I had to live through it twice before “dumping” two of the aforementioned clients… I’m still learning to use my gut instinct, but I recently felt that tummy feeling and turned a prospect down. I even had a vision of three months down the line! Not good… Passed it onto a competitor who was grateful and I was left looking professional… Vive la liberte!

      1. Glad to hear. Good for you.🙂

    2. Great post – sent to me by a co-worker; he and I are confronted with one of these situations now, and this may give me the courage to turn it down. It’s the 50 item grid 90 minute interview scenario – and aimed at Csuite respondents of all things – totally inappropriate for the situation- and will annoy these precious respondents AND not give the client the answers they are looking for.

      1. Glad to hear it. There are more of you out there. Keep it up.

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