Posted By Amanda Collins on December 20, 2010
As an entrepreneur, I have to “kill what I eat”—and if I don’t kill anything, I’m stuck eating Top Ramen. That fact can sometimes transform into approaching work with an “anything is good enough” attitude, but that’s not always what’s best for you, your business, or your clients.
Recently, I have found myself saying “no” to people more and more often. A lot of it has to do with the money being offered, but there are many times when I give away services or my time for free. Really, the truth of the matter is that I turn away work when it doesn’t resonate with the mission, or purpose, of my business.
Do you have a mission for your business? Mine is “To engage business leaders in the marketing-communications process, creating results through relationship development and consistent messaging.” Obviously, nowhere in there does it say I turn away opportunities, but if they don’t fit with what I’m doing and where I’m going, they aren’t good for me. Let me share with you some examples.
A while back, a client came to me through referral who needed some long-copy work for her website and email communications to support a teleseminar she was conducting. I don’t write long copy; I am a marketing writer and focus on short, concise, and direct messaging. I also didn’t like her product and felt that her approach was lacking integrity. At the time, I really needed the $1,000+ I knew this project would add to my wallet—but I turned it away. I chose to refer the project to a long-copy colleague who provided excellent service and made the client very happy.
Recently, a colleague came to me and asked me to do some writing for her clients as a vendor and wanted me to offer my services at a discount. Previously (when I was more desperate than I am now), I buckled and gave her a large discount off my listed prices. I subcontract often, and no one else ever gets a discount, so when she approached me this time, I was hesitant. First, my client base has improved since our first interaction. Also, she was slow to pay and to follow up with me, so I didn’t much like her business ethics. I thought about it and chose to offer her less of a discount this time around. When she came back to me about it, I was honest. I also suggested she might want to work with another writer.
In both of these cases, taking on that work wouldn’t have made me happy. I work for myself, so being happy in my job is pretty important! Happiness aside, however, taking on projects that I don’t like or that don’t resonate with my mission means that I will provide below-par quality, which will sully my reputation as a writer and business professional.
I encourage you to take some time to reevaluate your mission (whether it’s for your business or your personal mission as an employee) and be sure that the projects you accept fit with the direction in which you’re headed. If you follow that guiding light, you will find that you’ll attract better work that makes you happy and provides your clients with a reason to smile.