When you run your own business, not every opportunity is a good one. Sometimes you might want to politely decline some type of offer. How you do this without burning any bridges or hurting your reputation can be a challenge.  Here are a few things to keep in mind.

When to Say No

When deciding whether or not a business offer is good, trust your gut. Unless you feel an emphatic “yes”, then it probably is not the best opportunity. Often accepting these types of engagements will result in heartache down the road.

For example, if an offer comes across that you know will not give you the best results, then explain this to your potential client in a polite but firm manner. Explain specifically how it would not be beneficial for you to accept the engagement and do so in a prompt manner.  You want to turn away the business but you don’t want to permanently damage a potential great lead in the future.

Receiving Unreasonable Requests

When someone makes a request that is unreasonable for your business, it is okay to say no. Like working for free, some requests can do your business more harm than good. Many times, these requests are made with a vague promise of some future benefit.  These requests should always be avoided.  You can always tell the individual making the request that this opportunity would hinder your ability to serve others and take away from your overall goals as an organization.  Again, be polite but firm.

When Asked for Discounts

There are times during the life of a business where giving discounts is good business.  This is usually when you are first starting a business, or when you need to liquidate slow moving inventory.  However, you want to discourage the discount model as much as possible.  It is okay to take pride in your work and to expect fair compensation. 

If a person asks you for a discount, do not say no to their business, say no to the discount. If asked why you do not give discounts, it is perfectly fine to say that you have many other clients that pay full price for your services and that by offering discounts, you undermine your relationships with these other clients.   Holding yourself to these standards will show others that you take pride in your service or product.

Saying yes too often to discounted services or products creates other problems.  Your clients will think they can receive discounts from you anytime they want, so they will continually be haggling with you on price.  Others may also be offended when they learn of the various pricing levels being offered by your business.  Saying yes to discounts can also show that you do not hold your services to high standards, and that you are not confident in what you are selling.

Focus on Profits

Businesses survive on profit.  Profit ensures that your business will continue into the future.  Declining offers that are not beneficial to the business can save you time and money.  Declining offers in a respectful way will show your clients and future clients that you respect them. This will ensure that you create a successful and profitable business.