6 Times When You Should Say No to Clients - Path & Compass
Path & Compass is a boutique marketing and strategy firm with an intentional & holistic approach. We serve small businesses, specializing in wedding, event & hospitality businesses, wellness professionals, creative entrepreneurs and artists. Services including website design, branding & logo design, content marketing, SEO services, business coaching, sales training, graphic design, budgeting, goal setting and thoughtful growth.
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6 Times When You Should Say No to Clients

As a business owner, it can feel impossible to say “No”.  If customers are slim or you have the time, why would you ever turn down the income? More money is more money, right? Unfortunately, more money is not more fulfillment (and that’s why we started our business, right?!). In every situation, you should weigh the pros and cons of a sale. Here are 6 times when you should say “No” to clients, in order to maintain an all-around better business.


Are you spending more time than you would like trying to figure out how to politely turn down clients? Get our Copy & Paste: Email Scrips for Saying No over in the shop. These reusable, Copy & Paste Emails Scripts (13!) cover all the common requests overwhelming your inbox and taking you away from your passion.


1. It’s Not Ethical (or Legal)

An intentional business is an ethical one and your work with clients is about making the industry & business better. A prime example encountered by many small businesses is the use of copyright photos. Using copyrighted images inappropriately can put you in hot water with other businesses, as well as customers. Aside from simply not being ethical to benefit from someone else’s work. So if a customer asks you to, just say “No”. Another option is the many sources for royalty-free photos. Our team at Path & Compass, as well as our clients, often utilize free stock photos from sites like Pexels, Pixabay, and Unsplash.

2. It Stretches Your Team Thin

More money isn’t worth it if the work you are producing crap products or services. As a reputable and reliable business, you should only put out the best work and/or product possible. And sometimes that means saying no to additional income, especially if it would stretch your team thin. It’s important that you check in with your team regularly, especially if you are considering taking on additional work. Your view of what is doable may largely vary from theirs. Take the opinions of the people who work alongside you into consideration, to ensure that everyone can continue doing what they do best, to the best of their ability.

3. It’s Not Profitable

It may seem obvious, but it’s worth a reminder that should say no to clients who are not profitable. Don’t be fooled into investing your business into someone or something that won’t return said investment. Experience or ‘exposure’ won’t keep your doors open or pay your team. In fact, it will eat up your time and energy, leaving little for the tasks you should actually be prioritizing. Granted, it can be tricky to determine what is and is not worthwhile. All the more reason to know your numbers and follow the advice of Tim Ferris. If it’s not a ‘hell yes’, it’s a no.

4. It’s Beyond Your Area of Expertise (or Interests)

Just because someone asked you if you can do something, doesn’t mean you have to do it. These requests often have minimal profitability and take more time than anticipated because you are learning a new skill or setting up processes. Consider if you are looking to expand your skillset and services before you say yes and how their request aligns will your goals. If it doesn’t, it is okay to say no. Better yet, refer your client or prospect to someone else who specializes here.

5. Your Gut Says No

Your gut’s intuition knows it’s stuff. It’s actually your immediate impression or understanding of a situation. That wisdom should not be ignored. When you get a sense that a person is draining your energy or something seems off, pay attention! For example, someone who off the bat seems a little too noncommital or questions your process. These are red flags that your intellect will rationalize or justify (especially when the money is good). Listen to your gut and remember, you never lost money (or time or sanity) on a job you didn’t do.

6. It’s Disrespectful of Your Time or Expertise

Sometimes a request is downright disrespectful. As a business owner, you are allowed to hold yourself to a standard and therefore say “No” when a request would compromise your self-worth.  And remember, no is a complete sentence. You don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why you are unwilling to serve them. The same applies if someone were to lowball your services. You know what your time, energy, and skills are worth. So don’t feel as though you are required to satisfy a customer or client who doesn’t respect your work.  In either scenario, the best thing to do is politely decline the opportunity. Alternatively, offer a solution that does align with your business goals and prices. If their answer is no, then that’s that.


Are you spending more time than you would like trying to figure out how to politely turn town clients? Get our Copy & Paste Email Scrips for Saying No over in the shop. These reusable, Copy & Paste Emails Scripts (13!) cover all the common requests overwhelming your inbox and taking you away from your passion.