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Should You Turn Down Clients When You’re Fully Booked?

Should You Turn Down Clients When You’re Fully Booked?

Whether you’re a freelancer, coach, or consultant, nobody likes having to turn down their clients! But sometimes it’s necessary when you’re receiving more inquiries than you can handle. When you don’t turn down clients, the quality of your work can suffer...and so can the relationships you’ve built with those clients.

Saying “no” hurts, especially when you really want to work with a potential client. However, there are ways you can still accept new clients you’re fully booked...without overwhelming yourself!

1. Hire a virtual assistant

Your 1:1 business isn’t exactly scalable if it stays 1:1. The easiest way to find more time is to stop doing things that you don’t get paid for. You may be ready to hire a virtual assistant.

Do you respond to client emails, write blog posts, or post content on social media? When you total all of your time spent doing these tasks after a week, a month, a year... you may realize that you’ve lost tens of thousands of dollars by focusing on non-client work! 

You can’t simply stop doing these tasks, because they’re still important to your business. (They’re just not the core part of your business that you want to spend time on.) There’s good news, though: These types of tasks may be so simple for someone else to complete!

A virtual assistant can take care of your administrative tasks, like business emails, WordPress maintenance, social media advertisements, and after-hours phone calls. Unlike a traditional assistant, a virtual assistant works remotely, so you can hire anyone in the world. They’ll complete every task on their own computer, tablet, or phone, which will drastically reduce the cost of hiring help for your small business. 

The best part? Your virtual assistant will also deal with the personal tasks that are taking up your free time, which will increase the number of billable hours that you have during your work week.

2. Outsource some of your work

There are only so many hours in a day, and you have a limited amount of time to work with new and established clients. If you’re fully booked, the best thing that you can do for them is to offer that work to someone else. But that doesn’t mean that you should say no to new opportunities! 

Instead of sending a client to another business owner, hire a subcontractor to complete some of your work for you. Take a look at your schedule to find client-facing work that you would be willing to give to someone else. Then go on Facebook, Upwork, Freelancer, Guru, or any number of other places to find freelancers who would love to work with you.

Wanna find high-quality freelancers quickly? Ask your entrepreneur friends for referrals to their favorite contractors. Word of mouth is a great way to pre-qualify a candidate.

Hot Tip: I highly recommend having a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) ready to go so you can quickly hire another person. An NDA will protect your work, your ideas, and your biz. Plus, it’ll outline what happens if you and your subcontractor go your separate ways.

3. Set new deadlines based on your current schedule

You may be fully booked, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t have free time in the future! Your calendar is full of blank space, so why aren’t you asking your clients to wait for you?

When you talk to new clients about their upcoming projects, you should ask them what their deadlines are. If they can wait for a few weeks, you can add them to your schedule without sacrificing any of your time, money, or energy.

And if they need to finish their project within the next few days, you can tell them that they will pay more for a rush order. You can hire someone to help you with the extra work, and you’ll make more money than you would have if you turned them away.

By the way, establishing deadlines before your project gets going is super important when setting solid boundaries with clients!

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4. Offer digital products to expand your reach

If you hire a virtual assistant, outsource your work, and set new deadlines based on your current schedule, you’ll have more time to work on short-term projects… but they won’t fix your long-term problem.

At the end of the day, you’ll still have a fixed number of billable hours that you can dedicate to your clients. If you have done everything — and I mean, EVERYTHING — that you possibly can to clear your schedule, you need to find a new way to reach your target audience. One way to do that is to offer digital products that get your brand name more exposure and your biz more sales.

You can create a digital product that provides the same benefits as your current services. Online courses, video series, and eBooks can be sold to thousands of customers at the same time, which makes them far more profitable than a service-based business model!

In fact, this is how The Contract Shop® was born! After years of working as an in-house attorney, our fearless leader Christina Scalera decided to start a business that would be fun, creative, and scalable. But she couldn’t help every creative who came her way in a 1:1 capacity, so she founded The Contract Shop®  to share legal templates and courses with hundreds of new clients, instead of focusing on a select few.

Give yourself space to scale your business

You don’t always have to turn down clients when your schedule fills up. Sometimes you just need to implement a creative solution that will free up your time. Hire a virtual assistant, bring on more help, push out projects that can wait, or expand your services so you can keep saying “yes” to new business opportunities!

If you’re prepared to hire your first employee, you’ll probably want them onboarded and ready to work right away. Have an NDA handy so you can outline the terms of your collaboration, nail down confidentiality and liability, and protect your biz!

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