7 Reasons to Turn Down a Project

Danger SignMost of us feel pressure to take whatever work we can get.  One of my clients used to live by the mantra, “a job is better than no job.”  But in fact, we’ll be happier–and probably make more money!–if we are more selective.

Here’s seven situations when you’re better off saying no.  You’ll get a better ROI on your time if you spent it on marketing, going out and finding exciting work.


Lowball Price

If a client is only willing to pay a low fee for your work, first read How to Keep Prices High and Still Close the Sale.  If you can’t get a reasonable rate, pass.  If you don’t absolutely need the cash NOW, your time is better spent marketing for better projects.


Unrealistic Client Expectations

The client wants the moon…and they want it cheap, and they want it yesterday.  If you can’t get them to change their expectations, decline the job.  You already know it would end badly.


Difficult Client

Use your gut here.  If the client is a poor communicator, rude or unpleasant, won’t return calls, etc., steer clear!  It’s only going to get worse when the project gets stressful.


You’re Stretched Too Thin

It hurts to turn down a good project, but sometimes we just don’t have the bandwidth.  If you take on too much, your quality of work for EVERY project will suffer.  Ask if they’d be willing to delay starting, and, if not, decline.


Insufficient Alignment with your Expertise

There are some jobs you could do, but it’s not really in your wheelhouse.  In addition to the risk of mediocre results, it’s more lucrative to focus on one area of expertise (read why here).


Financial Uncertainty

If something smells fishy money-wise, run away.  Red flags include: they’re not willing to pay a deposit, any whiff that they may not pay promptly, and asking you to front large sums for expenses.  Your expertise is too valuable to risk not getting paid.


You’re Not Excited About It

It’s your business, and it’s your life.  If you’re going to be miserable doing the work, better to spend that time hunting for exciting work.

Share Your Experience

When have you decided to turn down work?  What advice do you have to share with others?  Leave your two cents in the comments below.

Receive free Bite Size Business Tips from Evan every month: click here.