In the early days of your business, you feel the pressure to "make it". You want to sign the clients, bring in the work and increase the revenue. You may think you need to take what you can get in order to succeed. We're in the age of #selfcare and #boundaries right? Well, these can be applied to your business too – and they should. You can quickly burn yourself out or even get burned if you don't set boundaries for you and your business. Setting boundaries will not only protect you, but also your team.
Saying "NO" Can Lead to Growth
If you're a new entrepreneur or in the early stages of business you probably feel like you need to say yes to everything. Why wouldn't you? You need the money and the business? Right? Wrong. There are times when saying "no" will actually help you grow more than saying "yes" will.
Let's start with your core values:
- What is your "why" behind your business?
- What are you trying to solve?
- Who are you trying to help?
This is where it gets easy, whenever a situation arises that doesn't serve the above core values then your answer should be "no". Saying "no" is okay! If it's not a good fit, it's not a good fit!
For example, one of my mentees started her company to help women-owned businesses build awareness around their brand. Her core values were helping women and supporting brands that were doing charitable services. During her first year of business she had a small team, they only had the capacity for a small workload because they're a boutique agency. She came across an inquiry from a Fortune 500 company that wanted to hire her for her largest package. Sounds great right?! Well, this company was run by men and wasn't providing any particularly charitable service. She felt like she needed to say "yes" because the money would be great! And sure, that would have been the answer from most small businesses. But she worried that taking on this client with such a small team would mean that she wouldn't have room to bring on any new clients that better fit her target audience – or her values. So she said no to this one. And guess what happened next – she had 3 new, women-owned businesses ready to sign on with her the following month! She wouldn't have been able to take them on if she had said yes to the previous inquiry.
Saying "no" can help open you up to more opportunities that make you want to scream "YES!".
Put Your Foot Down on Your Prices
I've seen it dozens of times. New business owners are hungry for business. This leads them to negotiating their prices in order to sign clients. This is a quick way to dig yourself into a hole. I get it, you're ready to work and to sign those clients! But the right clients will be willing to pay you what you're worth.
I urge you to put your foot down with your prices. But how? First, have a strong pricing structure. Don't price your services on a whim. Ensure that you have a formula to your pricing, this can be per project or hours. Second, have standard packages that you offer. This will put you in control of what you offer clients rather than letting them ask the world of you. Third, don't discount your rates. Instead you can adjust your packages. If you're paid less, then you should be working less!
For example, one of my mentees offers social media management packages. These packages start at $1200. In the early days of her business, she was open to negotiating these prices. There were multiple instances when she would end up selling her entire package for less than half her rate. This meant she was doing all of the work for half the pay! But at least she signed the client….
What she should have done, and does now, is if the client's budget is lower than her rate – she adjusts the package to fit the pricing accordingly. And she only does this when the client is a great fit for her.
Lowering your prices can lead to a downward spiral of feeling taken advantage of. It may seem fine to lower prices – but over time you will feel undervalued and underpaid for the amazing work you do.
Pricing and negotiating can be a very uncomfortable part of business. But it doesn't have to be! Just remember, business is a transaction between two parties that involves the exchange of products or services for monetary value. If there isn't monetary exchange, you aren't doing business!
Talk about an uncomfortable situation! Employees aren't the only ones who can get fired!
You signed the client, they've paid their invoice, y'all are ready to go! But over a couple of weeks or months you realize they aren't a joy to work with. Whether it's their way of communicating or lack of. Or they have outrageous expectations despite what your service outlines. Or they are unprofessional and don't treat you with respect. These are the clients that need to be fired.
This may tie your stomach in a knot just thinking about it, trust me, we've all been there. And I know a handful of business owners who have avoided firing clients in order to avoid the confrontational conversation. But it's not worth it.
Having a client that makes you feel less than who you are, or like you're doing a bad job, or who makes you cringe every time you get an email from them is not worth it. If your client relationship with them is affecting your day-to-day role or your relationship with your team or other clients – THEY GOTTA GO!
As the business owner, you have to not only protect yourself from disrespect but also your team. You have to set the precedent for how your company will handle confrontation, difficult situations or hurdles.
Here are a couple pointers when dealing with the not-so-pleasant client:
- Stay calm, don't get emotional. It's business, it's not personal.
- Refer back to the contract. It's there to protect you and your services.
- Get everything in writing. Don't get sucked into a FaceTime chat or a phone call. Get these conversations in writing.
Saying no, putting your foot down or dealing with confrontation definitely requires a learning curve. But like anything else, it takes practice. The more you do it, the easier it will get. Always put you, your team and your business first. Don't ever let someone tell you what you're worth or how you should do your job.