How Saying No to the Wrong Clients Can Keep You in Alignment

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Recently, I said no to a prospective client who has inquired about a full branding project. 

Now, this isn’t a revolutionary idea. But it was a particularly tough decision for me at the time. I’d had a full schedule for a few months, but suddenly I hit this lull. I had no projects coming up, no money coming into my business and with maternity leave right around the corner, I had a bit of a freak out. 

I knew we weren’t a good match, but I felt like I had to say yes.

I think this is something that happens to a lot of us. Entrepreneurship is not a straight line of growth. We all have slow seasons, where we aren’t working with as many clients or we simply don’t have as many sales.

It’s easy to panic and start agreeing to anything that comes our way. 

How Saying no to the wrong clients can help grow your intentional, purposeful business and keep you in alignment | Reux Design Co.

I almost did just that. I KNEW that this client wasn’t a good fit. Not only style-wise, but her business was something I didn’t believe in. In fact, it was something I would never purchase for myself in a store. 

I tried to justify to myself (and my husband, who gets the pleasure of listening to me figure out ALL of my major business decisions) about how I needed the work. How I could put aside my mission and my values for a few weeks and just get through the project. 

But the more I thought about it, the more my gut said no. And I knew that even though it felt scary to turn down work, as a conscious business owner, I couldn’t do it. It wouldn’t be fair to myself, my business OR the client.

Especially during slow seasons, it can feel tempting to work with clients or gain customers, even if they aren’t the right fit for our business. Finances play a big part in this, and often there is a lot of emotion and possibly fear tied to these decisions. It can also feel like if we don’t have any clients or customers, our business is “failing.” Or we aren’t working hard enough.

But working with the wrong clients or attracting the wrong customers (just for the sake of a sale) will almost always cause more harm to our business than good. 

In my experience, working with clients who I KNEW weren’t a good fit ended up leaving me feeling all sorts of burnt out, stressed and even annoyed. It lowered my productivity and killed my creativity. Not to mention I was constantly thinking to myself, “Why am I even running this business, if I’m not working with people I truly love and want to support?!”

If you run a product based business or shop, this can happen to you too. During a slow season, you might feel the need to make any sale possible, just to increase that bottom line and feel like your business is moving forward. But attracting the wrong customers probably doesn’t feel good. They don’t love and believe in your mission the same way, and often you have to spend more time convincing them to buy. 

As a conscious creator, who we work with or sell to matters.

If we want to run impactful, sustainable businesses, we have to be okay with attracting and repelling at the same time. Not everyone will love (or even UNDERSTAND) our business. And that’s okay! 

It can be hard to say no when we feel like there aren’t any better options coming our way. But building an impactful business takes time. And we have to know and believe in ourselves, and give our business space. Trust that if we keep creating content that comes from the heart, and speaking directly to our dreamy, ideal audience, they will come. 

This doesn’t mean that we run our business blindly, hoping to attract clients or customers. But that we’re extra intentional about every decision we make. And we always keep the end goal, the bigger mission, in mind. 

Through these experiences and running Reux Design Co. for more than 2 years now, there are a few lessons that I always come back. Hopefully these reminders can serve you well and inspire you also. 

01. Focusing on who I can best serve

Waiting for the right customers means that I can serve them BEST. I’m the best designer possible when working with a client who’s business lights me up! I want to support them and see them succeed. In turn, that gives me a boost of energy and leads to more productive and creative design work. 

02. Faster doesn’t always mean better

Getting a new client or customer now, doesn’t lead to a long-term benefit. Saying no to clients who don’t fit opens up the space in my life and business for those who DO. This often has a better impact on the growth of my business long term. And that leads to more referrals and word-of-mouth marketing.

At the end of the day...

You’re busy building an impactful business that MATTERS. 

Don’t undermine yourself by partnering with clients and customers who don’t fit. 

Trust me, I know that can be a scary decision. A hard one, sometimes. But if we want to build lasting, sustainable, conscious businesses, we need a bit of bravery. 

So this week, I encourage you: say no to the things that you know in your gut aren’t right. Listen to your intuition. Your business will thank you. 


P.S. — This article was originally shared with my email community. I'm sharing it with you on the blog today in the hope that it may be of some encouragement and insight to you in your creative journey right now, and also give you a little sneak peak of what you can expect from Weekly Letters. If you'd like to receive letters like this one straight to your inbox every Wednesday (sometimes more), you can sign up below. You'll also get access to my full Brand Resource Library!