Planning, Startups, Stories


Tim Berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime.

Just Turned Down a Consulting Job and I’m Glad 5

I just answered a social media consulting inquiry with this…

No, I’m sorry, that’s not what we really do well. We’re a business, so we’d have to charge you; and we wouldn’t be giving you your money’s worth.

… and I went on to recommend somebody else. The person I recommended as a consultant does do what my inquirer wanted. 

square peg round hole rosipaw flickr cc

I won’t bore you with details, but to me this transaction is a great example of the right attitude about sales. I don’t believe in selling as tricking somebody into buying something other than what they want. Selling is matching wants and needs, figuring out whether what you do is what that person needs or wants, and making a good match. 

Jumping on this kind of inquiry with a yes, making a pitch, while hoping to beef up your capabilities midstream, is tempting. But leads to a lot of problems. 

Ending up with “we don’t do that” is great for credibility, gives you a chance of future business, avoids the danger of a bad consulting engagement with unhappy clients, and keeps your self and your spirit whole. 

(photo credit: rosipaw via photopin cc)

  • http://wordsforhirellc.com Karen Swim

    I counseled a new entrepreneur about this recently. A podiatrist will not agree to do your brain surgery just because you ask. Having a successful business is not about saying “yes” but knowing when to say “no.” This is a great post with an important reminder to learn the importance of saying no to things that really are not in your area of expertise.

  • http://timberry.com Tim Berry

    Steve, Clint, Daria, thanks for good additions.

  • http://www.steigmancommunications.com Daria Steigman

    Hi Tim.

    This is hard for a lot of budding entrepreneurs and consultants to understand, but it is critical. When you’re trying to be all things to all people, you usually fail. If it’s the wrong fit, I’ve always preferred to say so and preserve my reputation (and let the prospect come back later with the right project).

  • https://syncapps.cazoomi.com Clint Wilson

    Good read Tim and always pays in the end to be honest about skills for sure:)

    ~Clint
    @cazoomi

  • http://www.smallbusinesstalent.com Stephen Lahey

    Wise, wise advice, Tim. I say that having been a self-employed consultant in a sales intensive industry since 2000. It’s all about a great fit between what we do best and what the client actually needs.