The importance of saying no

Published by | Friday, July 12th, 2013


One of the greatest challenges faced by freelance designers and design firm owners is knowing when to decline work. Not all jobs are created equal, and just because you like the client, or the pay is good, or it seems like an interesting project, doesn’t mean the job is going to benefit you or your business.

Let’s say it’s a company whose mission you admire and want to support, but they have a small budget and the schedule is too tight for the scope of work. The best-case scenario is that you’ll end up working too hard for too little compensation. The worst-case scenario is that you won’t be able to produce work you feel good about because of the time constraints. Additionally, you may even have to pass on another job that would have been more beneficial to your business.

Petrula Vrontikis, creative director and owner of Vrontikis Design Office for more than 20 years, has a simple formula for determining if a job is worth taking; it must work on at least two of the three levels listed below. If it only serves one of the three needs, you probably shouldn’t pursue it.

LOVE = Your passion, desire, or the potential this project has to represent the best work you can do

TIME = A schedule that will enable you to do your best work

MONEY = Fair compensation for the scope of work

It can be very challenging to turn down work, especially when you’re not busy, but the cost of taking on the wrong job can be much greater than you think. For more great business advice, watch Petrula’s latest course Running a Design Business: Starting Small.

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