Five Times to Turn Away Business

Black woman smiling seated at a desk

When you are in business for yourself, it is sometimes hard to turn away new business, new clients. But there are times when you should say “no,” and your business will thank you.

“I always coach my clients that all business is not good business and every client is not their ideal client to work with,” says Shaquanna Wilson, realtor and business coach to new realtors.

When you say “no” to requests and clients that are out of your wheelhouse, the advantage is not extending yourself to agree to tasks that might be impossible for you to complete. “The advantages of saying no to a client/deal would be the ability for the service provider to move on to a deal that better suits their expertise and for the client to find another service provider that can give them the care and expertise that they deserve,” says Wilson.

But on the flip side, one downside is that by saying “no” you might not be challenging yourself or your company. “The disadvantages could be missing out on a learning opportunity or maybe an opportunity to build a new relationship with someone by showing them your ability to be a problem solver,” Wilson points out.

Here are five times to just say “no.”

Red flags

When meeting with a potential client or mulling over a new deal, any red flag should be a reason to reconsider.

“It’s in one’s best interest to say no to a client or deal with the clients shows clear red flags of not being cooperative. If a client will not respect your professional expertise, it will cause undue stress and burnout for the professional attempting to perform a service. Both will leave the relationship more than likely feeling depleted and unsatisfied,” says Wilson of Keller Williams Augusta Partners, who calls herself the “Realestate Visionista.” 

Unethical requests

If a client asks you to do something that you know if not right, this is a time to say “no.” “Another reason would be if taking the deal will require you to complete tasks that are unlawful or unethical. If one has not expertise in completing the terms of the deal, this could be a disservice to the client,” Wilson points out.

Out of vision

It’s a good idea to turn down business deals that don’t fit into your own business’ mission.

“One reason to say ‘no’ is when the deal does not align with your business core values and mission,” notes Maggie Perotin, FMA business and leadership coach and founder of Stairway to Leadership.

She adds, “Every lasting business should develop a foundation, a North Star that will guide it through its growth and all the opportunities that come their way in the form of core values, mission, and Vision. Agreeing to deals that will impede on what the business stands for, its integrity, confuses current clients, employees, and hurts the brand.”

Too large to handle

If a job is too big for your company to handle it’s best to turn it down. “If the new client or deal is of massive size, and the business is not ready with people, systems, and processes to transition it well, it can turn into a disaster. At best, the loss of the client’s trust and reputation, at worst in bankruptcy,” advises Perotin.

Don’t be afraid

It’s tough to turn away business. But sometimes you can’t be afraid to do so.

“Saying no can be terrifying. You’re potentially turning down a large sum of money, the press that goes along with that deal, or facing the judgement or guilt of others for not moving forward on it. But the advantages far outweigh the fear. You can’t take on more business you actually enjoy if you’re filling your calendar with clients or work you dread,” suggests transformational coach Cory A Rusin, founder of the Purpose Development Accelerator.