What to do when you’re too busy to take on a job? Martin Lee offers practical advice on how to say no. It’s a nice problem to be too busy but you don’t want to lose a client for the future. Here are three ways to say no while making it sound like saying yes.
One of the most galling situations you can face as a small business or one man band is when you’re too busy to take on a job from a client who wants to give you the work. For all that it’s a nice problem to have, the anxiety is that you might lose a client for the future. Here are three possible options for coping with a situation like that.
1. If you can’t sub-contract or freelance the work out, then give a genuine recommendation of someone else that you know will do a good job. (But also make sure that you know that the person you recommend won’t then pinch the client away from you.)
2. If it’s a client you work with often, offer to review the work for free that gets done by your replacement to ensure consistency and quality.
3. If the work has come at a traditionally busy time, perhaps make an offer to them that if they were to commission work from you in, say, January (or any other month when you’re often underworked), that you could give them a preferential rate. This would at least demonstrate goodwill.
Longer term, developing a reciprocal network is the best defence, such that you already know who you can get freelance support from in the case of being too busy to do the work personally.