How to say "No"

What you have to do when running your own business.
work hard poster

Another important task is getting paid.
Have you ever had clients who don't have enough money?
Or clients who play you off against another designer, or worse, against someone who once took a summer design class.
How about these inflatable boxing gloves to fight with clients :)

Money means you get to eat. But it doesn’t mean that you have to grab at any paying project. This only damages your reputation and that of the design business as a whole.

So what to say when your client's budget is too low?

Instead of fighting or slashing your prices, try this:
“Sorry, you haven’t allocated enough resources
to this project.”

If they insist on their budget, explain that good design costs money. It’s not rocket science. Batter up!
Have you had to say No? If so, please share them.


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24 comments:

Laurie Rosenfeld said...

Suki, I love this line: “Sorry, you haven’t allocated enough resources
to this project.” I may just have to adapt this for my own use. :)

Sammi said...

I've learned this lesson the hard way - trying to get a "good deal" and there is usually a reason one person is a lot less than the other quotes you get.
If I am too expensive for someone - I know we are not a good fit, and spend my time on clients that know what I'm worth ;-)

Heather Lentz said...

I tend to stand firm on my pricing. I believe that you get what you pay for. If someone wants to go somewhere else to get a better price then fine. I usually end up fixing the project in the end anyway. I may have to use your line sometime...love it!

Laura said...

Suki, love this blog and the simplicity of it and your pictures that go with it, so creative, clear and of course, to the point about the need to say no. Thanks for the good reminder on this one!

kp said...

Ah yes, money... and who has and who has not! I am in a position to work with my clients. I have enough high paying clients that when someone hits hard times, I am able to extend a break. They are so appreciative that they return favors. Yet I do think its because I charge a high premium for my services (music/piano/creative arts teacher). I am also able to offer full scholarships to those who don't have it. But the majority of my clients know its a true exchange.

On the otherside of things, I can be a client who has to work the edge to get the services I really want! I may have to do installments, but I always pay up and am UBER grateFULL for those who extend payment plans.

Suki@Fantabulous Design said...

Hi KP, I love the idea of offering scholarships. This is one reason that I started own business which is one day I'd be able to offer someone who want to be a designer and really need some kind of full support.

Jessica Kupferman said...

Instead of saying no, or "you don't have enough funds," I usually offer a flexible payment plan where they can pay me in monthly installments rather than half down and half when the project is complete. When I'm pitted against another designer, I usually point out why they'll have more value if they go with my system (easier to manage, blog functionality, whatever.) Sometimes, they just want the amateur and that's ok too. I prefer to let the client say no to my fee rather than say no to them. :)

Jenny Shih said...

I let go of the difficult ones. I don't play games with pricing. Too much headache and bad energy.

I do like Jessica's suggestion for offering payment plans.

In the end, there's always someone who is willing to undercut pricing, but I don't waste my time worrying about that.

So to answer your question, I guess I've said NO, but not really. My answer is "this is what I charge." Drama-free.

sheila said...

Suki, having worked in an advertising agency for over 20 years before I became an entrepreneur, I can certainly relate to the need to educate client's on the difference with grace and ease. Your statement, sorry you haven't allocated enough resources to this project, is a good one because it removes the notion they do not have the money, just stating they didn't intend to spend it on this project which gives them the opportunity to change their mind and work with you if they allocate the proper resources. It doesn't make them wrong, just informs them of their choices. Then when they have a project worthy of spending the right dollars they will think of you if you have a good rapport with them overall.

shari said...

Lots of really good advice, Suki, both in your post and in the following comments. I like the idea of not creating drama by stating that there aren't enough funds allocated... I wish I had thought of that when I was still working in interior design. I made all the rookie mistakes, ha ha! I also like the payment plan option. I agree that it helps no one to lower your price.

Anastasia said...

Excellent advice Suki. This happens to us all the time! We meet some great companies who are just starting out and don't have the budget. Asking very clearly upfront about the budget and if necessary (hard question to ask) are you able to pay? is important. Love your article!

Jo Farmer said...

Well said Suki, couldn't have said it better myself. xx

Tanya said...

Yes! I love this! How to say NO in a positive, life-affirming way. This is brilliant to be sharing and discussion this important topic. I've had to turn away a lot of people who want be to give them free coaching. I've also been learning to say no to people who want to partner and work with me, but I feel drained instead of energized so I say no. I'm also very present to my boyfriend breaking it off with me: I actually acknowledged him for saying no to the relationship (at least he finally got off the fence!).

pat novak said...

I once had clients who I knew made good money, but always wanted some kind of "deal". I finally got it when, after agreeing to give them a "deal" , they mention the month long trip they were taking in Provence. Here I am , helping them save their relationship ! I learned my lesson, to value myself and my services. That is what i hear you saying Suki, if they don't see the value , then why work with them.

Maddy Vertenten said...

First I have to tell you I love your whimsy w/ photos in this post - super cute! And I love the NO topic. Saying no is so difficult for so many people and I don't think we can discuss it enough. There's nothing quite like the rush you get as a business owner when you begin to set boundaries and really own your worth.

Scott Powers said...

Oh Suki, such an important post for a business owner. I thought I learned my lesson years ago, but every once in awhile I end up saying yes to a client I should have said no to. Everytime I have lowered prices to accomodate a client I end up regretting it. That includes a recent stint trying to clean up a celebs non-profit mess.
As Pat mentioned, it comes down to how you assess your own value.

Claire Maguire said...

What a fabulous way to say no, so crystal clear. Makes no one upset and your point is eloquently stated. I do have a tendency to bend over backwards for clients and adjust to their needs so I definitely needed the advice.

Loralee said...

I so agree with you Suki! It can be a huge challenge sometimes, to turn down a project. But over time you realize they will indeed find someone that's a good fit for them, or they will find the funds to work with you. It's better for all parties to stay the course. In fact, I did this just a few hours ago. I did a short session with someone who I would have loved to work with. But they were a non-profit company and pulled the "we don't have enough funds" card. I simply let them know my rates, and said, "my typical client requires this many hours per year" so he can potentially put it into his budget next year, instead of worrying about this being a completely out of control expense every single month, as hourly billing can often be

It may not happen this time, but generally they call back & say "We'd like to work with you, if you still have spots open". And I admire them for really taking this part of their business seriously. We all uplevel, when we have a good exchange of money.
Thanks for this post Suki! ~ Loralee

Xen Strength Yoga said...

oy! this is such a tough one.. i have been on both sides of the coin and neither are easy. right now i do work with private yoga clients on a sliding scale, but i've been told to just charge my highest rate and those customers will come.. is it different when your business feels more like service than A "service?"

Alara Castell said...

Work hard and be nice to people! Sweet sign!

When I first started coaching I worked on a sliding scale but now I don't budge because I know the value of hiring a good coach.

I've been in this situation myself when I come across a coach or service that I am considering of hiring and sometimes I'm hesitant and the reason being is I don't see the value yet.

Now sometimes I don't have the money and I buy because I know the value is worth it and it will move me forward.

So I believe in saying No. I think you should know if it is a fit and your value and if they can see the value too they will sign up.

xoxo
Alara K. Castell
Your Sassy Spiritual Guide
http://www.alaracastell.com

Suki@Fantabulous Design said...

I've learn a lot from all the comments. The payment plan is also a good idea to offer to clients. I haven't thought about that before!!! Thank you to all of you. Suki

Calico Child said...

Hi Suki thanks for following my new venture love the sign & loved reading your other followers comments, its crazy how people want something for nothing keep strong you know you are worth every penny or should I say doller :) x

Suki@Fantabulous Design said...

Thank you Elaine, and hope your new venture with Calico Child will not need to say NO! to anybody :)

Tina Pruitt said...

WOW! Who knew that there was such a cool tool!! I love the concept of using colors in images we love....this is fabulous! Thanks so much for sharing...

xo, Tina

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