You are always going to run into a customer or client that will demand more of you than you can provide. They may demand freebies or refunds from products they more than enjoyed and benefited from. Or, they may be extremely high maintenance; taking up so much of your time that you are not providing other clients with the attention they deserve. Whatever the situation, it is important to learn how and when to say no.

Why say no?

When it comes to your business, you have to make a decision whether or not keeping that one client happy will make or break your success. Whatever the decision, it has to be firm and final. After all, a small business owner needs to make a profit in order to survive. Constant giving in to discount hunters and time hoggers will not keep a business afloat in the long run.

When to say no.

Timing is everything. “When” you decline the request of a customer is just as important as “why”. Be sure to explain your reason behind the no. A decline without an explanation can cause grave issues for your brand.

Not declining right away might be received as being led on. This will cause more anger and frustration when you finally say no to the customer. While it’s difficult to turn someone down, it is important to do it right away. Being direct is far more respectable than beating around the bush.

What to say no to.

Certain seasons allow for businesses to be generous while other times purse strings need to tightened. Perhaps customers may try to take advantage of a discount that was allowed during a previous season of generosity and abundance. Explain to them that any discount they may be trying to cash in on has expired and cannot be honored at this time.

If a client or customer threatens you physically, it is never appropriate to continue services with them. This is a form of abuse that cannot be celebrated. A violent person does not respect and will not provide future transactions or profit.

Finally, if a client is taking up a huge chunk of your time but is not contributing more financially to the success of your business, you need to cut the cord. It is a fact that time is money. And the time this individual is taking from you with no profit could be invested in a customer that will make your business more money.


Above all, understand that your customers, good or bad, are governed by emotion. No one likes rejection. Saying no at some point in your career is inevitable. Try your best to empathize with them in your presentation and delivery. The success of your business depends on it.