On Saying No To New Business


Whenever we get a new business inquiry – in less formal terms, someone emailing or calling us to test the waters of what we charge or what we can do for them – we make a tally mark on our chalkboard for the quarter. Sounds super-business-time, right? But really, these email inquiries can range from super-casual to super-let-me-tell-you-my-whole-life. Regardless of the request, we always send back the same Braid proposal (see Kathleen’s How To Write An Email for tips on how we frame that response). It’s not because we are robots that always stick to the same response. It’s because what’s in our proposal is what we rock at. It’s either a fit or it’s not. 

The neighboring chalkboard column, our “no’s” tally, isn’t what you think. Rather than a count of the people who say “thanks, but no thanks” to us (though we get those, too, of course) – those marks are for when we decline to send a proposal. It’s when we say “no” to new business. Sound counterintuitive? You know it sounds crazy-great, and you want to do it, too.

Does Saying "No" Make You Cringe?

Here’s what you’re probably thinking:

1. Isn’t saying “no” a bit arrogant?

No. “No” can quite frankly be a big fat favor to everyone involved.  The best way to say no is nicely. And tell someone why. We tell them it’s because we typically only work with creative entrepreneurs or small independent businesses. But even if this person is launching a big public service campaign and works for “the man” (let’s say, a government agency) – they might still have a friend who is a perfect fit.

2. Isn’t it a tad obsessive compulsive to track your “no’s”?

Er, maybe. Especially since this picture is only a sliver of our chalkboard for the quarter. Most of it is dedicated to the “yes” activity. (And you thought it was just for Kathleen to take pictures of her outfits in front of.) But we firmly believe you attract what you track. 

3. But couldn’t you use the cash?

 Yes. Absolutely. But sometimes you have to let it go to be able to have not only the to-do list space but the mental-space to focus on building your own expertise. The more you are seen as an expert, the more you can charge (not to mention the more you can actually serve your “yes” clients in a really meaningful way).  Of course there are times when it makes total sense to say to-heck-with-it, I need the work, I need the confidence, I need the moola.  But just recognize you're making an exception, not opening the floodgates of “anything goes.” Because you can’t be an expert at anything if you’re doing everything.

Does saying “no” make you cringe? Or does it make you feel in control? Tell us on Facebook.

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.



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