I was uncomfortable. It’s always awkward to write the professional equivalent of a “Dear John” letter….
Thank you so much for your inquiry. After reviewing your design needs, I believe our firm is not a good fit for the services you desire…..
Holy Scooby snacks Velma, did I really say “no” to a prospective client that had money? Am I really at the point in my career that I can so flippantly leave cash on the proverbial table? Am I balling so hard that I can get the pick of the client litter? Well the short answer to the above questions is yes and no.
Yes, I did say “no” to a design inquiry and yes I am hand selecting each of my potential projects. But then I think everyone should be selective with whom they do business. I look at it the same as dating … you wouldn’t date someone who you didn’t think a good fit for you, so why would you enter into a business relationship? It’s not a matter of “like” as a matter of ensuring that you can develop a good long-term relationship. In the past two years, I have had what I would several “hot and fast” design relationships where I enter into a business arrangement with a client that goes hard and fast, leaving me under paid, under appreciated and over worked. It’s not a sustainable model for long-term growth for a variety of reasons but the most important ones being:
- Clients refer other clients: Get into a cycle of attracting your not ideal client and it’s extremely hard to get out.
- Balance: Those types of working relationships can only be done (and should only be done) on the rare occasion. Make a business out of them and you risk burning out and ruining not only the business but yourself
- It’s Not Fun: Work isn’t always fun but darn it, shouldn’t you enjoy it for about 80% of the time? So why take on clients you won’t enjoy spending significant time with?
And thus I said, no to ensure I could keep saying yes to those projects and clients I found enjoyable, exciting and fulfilling. To be honest, I am not sure I will ever get use to saying no but like the quote infers, you have to be ready to pass on the mediocre to leave room for the extraordinary. So my friends, I am learning to pass up on the “design bread basket” of life and will continue to fight for the truly meaty design jobs. Scary but way more filling in the end…..