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5 Reasons To Walk Away From A Project

Sep 09, 2016 by Stevie Valle

As a small business owner, obtaining new clients is vital to the success and growth of your business. But just as quickly as one great project can catapult your business to more success than you could have imagined, taking a bad project or partnering with the wrong client can leave you losing money, or worse, your good reputation. So how do you know when to just say no?


They cannot agree on pricing.

A little wiggle room when it comes to negotiating price is sometimes necessary to stay competitive, especially in smaller markets. That said, if during the estimate process the client refuses to consider paying a reasonable amount, that’s a sure sign this partnership may spell disaster in the end. 

In addition to causing you to potentially lose money if the bid is too low to cover labor, materials, and other costs, a persistent haggler may not be willing to pay after the job is complete. This hit could throw your business into financial turmoil, so if you feel hesitant when negotiating, politely decline the job and find something a bit more secure.

The project is outside of your specialty.

It can be difficult to admit when you’re simply not qualified to perform a specific task, especially if some of your competitors offer a similar service. But taking a job for which you don’t have the proper training and experience can be disastrous for your business, costing you money in damages, not to mention the huge hit it could deliver to your reputation. 

Admitting your limitations to the client will save you headache in the event of a mishap during the job, but can also lead to future business. Highlight the projects in which you excel and invite the client to contact you again if they need those types of services. In the end, they’ll be appreciative and may even return to you or recommend you to others for future projects because of your integrity. 

They are rude, abusive, or disrespectful to you or your staff.

This one sounds like a no brainer, but in our “the customer is always right” culture, bully customers often seem to get a free pass. Depending on your industry, a bit of consumer frustration may be expected, but when it turns from normal frustration to unnecessary verbal (or worse, physical) abuse towards you or your team, that customer should be dropped immediately.

Chances are at least part of the reason you went into business for yourself was to eliminate some of the stress associated with taking business based on what someone else decided. Now that you’re in charge, alleviate some of that stress by turning away clients who aren’t able to maintain a professional relationship.

They have a bad reputation.

Word travels fast through business networks of a particular industry. If you’ve heard horror stories from other businesses about working with a particular client, it may be time to say no. 

Sure, it’s possible the bad reputation was due to a personality clash or improper expectations set at the beginning of the project. But if you hear the same complaints from various businesses in your industry, run away. Fast.

You simply don’t want the job.

Yes, making money is the end goal of any business. This doesn’t mean that you have to accept every job that comes along. It’s okay to be picky sometimes. If a project is something you despise doing, take some time to find something that’s going to make you proud and happy. This can become a slippery slope, though, if you keep holding out for that passion project and turn down money making ventures in the meantime. With the right balance, you don’t have to sacrifice your happiness and can make money as well as pick up fulfilling projects along the way. 


The idea of turning down paying jobs is enough to make any business owner’s lip quiver, but when done for the right reasons, can actually result in more success and growth, not to mention the positive effect it could have on you and your employees. Sometimes it’s best to just say no to those projects or jobs that cause more headache than their worth to protect your business (and sanity).


What makes you turn down a job? Share in the comments below.

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