when i started my business, i was keen on saying YES. every inquiry was an accomplishment. it didn’t matter who the client was, or where it was located. i was so excited to be solely responsible for my creative outlet that i took every inquiry i could.
then the hard work set in. the expenses, research, and editing piled up. i realized that i was spreading myself thin and that physically, my assistant and i could not do a wedding every weekend. each year, i dialed it back more and more. here are ways to first decide if you want to say yes, and what to do when you decide that you don’t.
getting the inquiry
- finding the perfect fit
no matter how cool it may seem, or how much it pays, some projects just aren’t meant to be. you need to look at each aspect and decide if you’re the best fit for the client, and vice versa. a phone chat or a coffee date is sometimes the best way to do this.
- interfering with the big picture
ask yourself if doing xy and z will interfere with ways that will improve your life as a whole. will it take time away from spiritual things, family time, or self care practices? if the answer is yes to any of these, then you already have your answer!
- need vs. want
its hard to say no to money, simple as that. the majority of the time we really do need it. in this for-instance, its not about the basic necessities (food, shelter, clothing), but rather do you NEED the money? will it improve your life? could you cut back on a few things to live a little less money-stressed? the more money we obtain, there is the risk of filling that extra cash-flow with things that aren’t really important. aka: a vicious cycle.
- being realistic with your timeframe
“i’m pretty busy with projects at the moment, but this one will only take me one day. i can handle that.” you’ve thought it, said it, committed to it, and then five to ten days later, you are lying awake at night because you just. didn’t. get it done. being realistic with your timeframe will not only allow you to say no to things that you can’t realistically complete, but it will also help you schedule your time more effectively.
how to say no
- let it marinate
sometimes things come along that i have to confirm with my calendar, obligations, or my husband. if you’re just not sure, tell them. reply in a way that is honest and pleasant. specify a date or time range for when they can expect to hear back from you. its better to respond honestly and right away then to just ignore them completely. if they’re sincere in their request, they won’t mind waiting for a small while.
- give an alternative
giving another option can soften the blow of “NO.” for example, if its a client whose wedding or project you are declining, give them a few of your favorite colleagues that you know and trust. i have a draft under my google mail at all times for when i’m “unavailable” and it has other cinematographers i admire who have similar styles to my own. that way i am able to respond quickly and effectively, all while networking at the same time.
- gauge your obligation
are you saying no to a potential client, or a workmate? these factors could change the way you respond as to why you’re unavailable. for example, if the reason is because you’ve had a recent death in the family, you may feel okay explaining that to a past collaborator, but not necessarily to an inquiry from someone you don’t know personally.
its never good for yourself, relationships or your business to over-promise and under-deliver. just say no! the rest will come.