I don’t like it when I have to turn down clients, and if you’re a freelancer, coach, or consultant, you probably feel the same way (or you’ve been dreaming about that day!). But it’s a tough position to be in when you’re receiving more inquiries than you can handle.

Saying “no” hurts though, especially when you really want to work with the potential client. Here are four ways to accept new clients when you’re fully booked… without overwhelming yourself!

1. Hire A Virtual Assistant

There are millions of people that need your services, but your 1:1 business isn’t exactly scalable if it stays 1:1. You spend as much time as you can with new clients, but when it’s gone, it’s gone… and so are they.

So what should you do? Well, the easiest way to find more time is to stop doing things that you don’t get paid for.

Do you respond to client emails, write blog posts, or post content on social media? When you add all of that time together after a week, a month, a year... you’ll realize that you’ve lost tens of thousands of dollars by focusing on mindless work. The silly part is that these 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. They’ll 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.

I know, I know: you want to know how much your new best friend is going to cost!

Unlike a traditional assistant, a virtual assistant works remotely; that means that you can hire anyone in the world, at any price that they are willing to work for. You can use Upwork to find a low-cost VA in the Philippines, or you can hire a temp agency to find an executive assistant in Chicago: the choice is yours. 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.

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 them to another business owner, you can hire a sub-contractor to complete some of your work for you. (And I highly recommend having a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) ready to go so you can quickly hire another person.)

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.

Tip: Ask your entrepreneur friends for referrals to their favorite contractors. Word of mouth is a great way to pre-qualify a candidate.

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.

4. Create A Guide

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.

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

In 2014, this idea completely changed my life: after years of working as an in-house attorney, I decided to start a business that would be fun, creative, and scalable. But I couldn’t help every creative who came my way through Scalera IP Law… so The Contract Shop was born, giving me the opportunity to share legal templates and courses with hundreds of new clients, instead of focusing on a select few.

So don’t wait until the clock runs out! Give yourself the time, attention, and energy that you need to build a scalable business, and you’ll be able to say yes to new business opportunities!

Not sure WHEN you should hire your first contractor? Check this blog post out.

Be prepared to hire fast, get the NDA template for your business.

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