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Small Business Tip: Sometimes You Have To Say 'No'

Originally published at Pulp Sushi January 2015, UPDATED

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Whether you are running a small business or freelance working for a few clients, it can be hard to turn down a gig or custom order especially if a nice chunk of change can be made. Just like we shouldn't price our items for less to make a quick a buck, the same applies to potential work. 

One time, I got an Etsy convo at Pulp Sushi where someone asked if I can do 20 (that's TWENTY) of a particular necklace in my shop. While I'm good with bulk chains and general jewelry supplies, charms are a different story and the charms I like to use come from a specific shop that presses them here, not "Made In China". Naturally, this costs a little more which also means I can only purchase so many at once. 

I was never in the position where my items were flying out of the shop so I constantly needed to restock.  Asking for 20 of anything from me is a tall order.   It can be done, but with some time and a deposit.  So I asked for $500 with a $150 deposit.  I don't think this is unreasonable especially if this is to be done in the next couple of weeks.  

Instead I get a response saying that they had "another seller who can guarantee a quick delivery...".  They didn't exactly turn me down, but they didn't say "ok" either.  I had a bad feeling this would turn into back and forth bullshit so I had to end this quick and tell them to go with the other person.  

It can be frustrating having to justify why we should be paid what we are worth. There's a misunderstanding that working independently means that we're willing to take any amount of money any chance we can get - no. You work hard, and you deserve to be compensated appropriately for it.  

How much money? It's hard to say, it varies for everyone but it requires some soul-searching on your part. Think about what you do, what you need to do what you do, how much time the work will take, and how much you will need to get by.  Maybe not just get by, think about THAT amount, and then add a little more to it. 

I have a problem saying "No" to work. I think I can do it all and have time for everything - yeah! Sure! No problem!  There was an instance where I almost had a mental breakdown because I was suddenly feeling so overwhelmed with what was asked of me.  I was on the phone with a client and they had an idea about something and without giving it any thought I just came out and said "I don't think we should do that."<---that was my gut talking because when she said it, I immediately felt a sense a dread come over me. I had to turn it down, I had reached my limit.  Thankfully, she was totally cool with it and respected me setting up some sort of boundaries.  I felt so much better afterward. 

Have you experienced a similar situation where you had to turn down work because it just seemed unreasonable? 

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