It’s always a struggle to say no, especially with client intake. Specifically, when you are at the start of your business, you feel that you should take what you can get as far as clients/customers. However, if you take on too much, this can backfire. In business, you have to know when to use the dreaded word, NO.

Why should you say no?

Respect. Using the word “no” indicates that you have confidence and that you are not someone they can bully. Without obvious thought, they honor your professionalism on a different level and will value your view more than they did at the start of your business relationship. While gaining respect is a positive, it is still hard to use such a negative word. But above all, would you rather your customer like or respect you?

You’re giving your client their money’s worth. If you are being hired by a client, it’s because you are a professional that they are paying to get the job done. That means that your opinion matters. As a professional, you know better than the client. Saying “no” is just enforcing that you know what you’re doing and you are here to get the job done on behalf of your client.

Cover your own back. You want to make sure that you are getting paid for the job that you do. If you take on too much work, tasks will not get done and you will have failed your client. Also keep in mind that aside from being a professional, you also have a life to live. And work/life balance is highly important.

What is the right way to say no?

When what you’re asked to do is unethical to your standards. If this happens, you will definitely want to hear out the client before shutting them down. When you are in business, sometimes you have to approach many circumstances with an open mind. In the same token, know your values and be prepared to stand by them; after all, you still have to live with your decisions.

When you’re asked to do something out of the scope of your agreement. In some situations, it might be beneficial to your business to add tasks that were not initially agreed upon if it means expanding your business and its reputation. However, if it’s something that is so out of your scope that it might do more harm than good, then it is time to remind the client of what was initially agreed upon in your contract.

When you are asked to something that you are not being fairly compensated for. It’s not a bad thing to ask to be paid what you are worth. Also keep in mind what the average pricing is for your services offered. You want to make sure you are being just as fair.

If the task being requested would harm the client. Be open with them and let them know why the task you are rejecting could be harmful to them. Proceed with caution when doing this because some clients may have a very emotional attachment to the task at hand; and your job is to explain to them why they have to let go.

Remember that sometimes such a negative word like “no” could bring about positive outcome for everyone; provided that you are offering them a solution to the temporary pause. With such transparency, you are not building the reputation of your business and services, but rather you are enhancing the success of your clients as well.