How I almost failed a client, industry friends and a best friend in just two months…


We’re doing things a little bit differently with this one. One of our incredible Jetsetter Elite clients, Evelyn (of Letterlyn), approached us about writing a guest blog post for us, on a topic near and dear to our hearts: SAYING NO! We’re pretty sure her experience as a self-proclaimed people-pleaser will resonate with plenty of our readers 😉 We love Evelyn’s determination to build a business that brings her joy, but more importantly, we admire how she takes action, even through trial and error, changes course when she needs to and keeps moving right along, taking her business to the next level! After you read this, go check out her BEAUTIFUL invitations + calligraphy over at Letterlyn!


Collaboration, strategic relationships: We all know they’re great ways to grow our businesses. I love being helpful and working with others. But, like many of us, I can be helpful to a fault.

I got more than 15 requests for editorial shoots for the months of April and May. I said yes to more than half. Some were small orders, while some took days to complete. It was a lot of work and most of it was unpaid. I was hoping to build relationships and boost SEO through publication.

I was working in overdrive and hadn’t made time for myself in weeks. One day, I told my husband I wouldn’t be going to my friend’s birthday weekend because I needed to stay home to work. Did I just think about putting my work over my childhood best friend? Then, I made a mistake on some client work and fixed it so it was “good enough.” I remember the words crossing my mind. Immediately, the blood rushed from my face. I was mortified. Next, I realized I hadn’t given 100% to one of the shoots. I didn’t spend the time or energy to create something unique because my creative energy had simply run out.

Miraculously, everything turned out for the best: I went to the birthday party, fixed the client work, and created something amazing for the shoot.  But, those were some close calls. I told myself that I was making these sacrifices to help others and to grow my business in the spirit of collaboration. In reality, I was so afraid that if I said no to the styled shoots, the vendors involved would never work with me. So, I kept saying yes. If the above examples taught me anything, it was this: In trying not to let fellow wedding vendors down, I was almost failing everyone. [quote align=’right’]If the above examples taught me anything, it was this: In trying not to let fellow wedding vendors down, I was almost failing everyone.[/quote]

Let’s get some solutions started

I created an affirmation about saying “no” when its the right thing to do. If you struggle with saying no, even if it’s the right choice, tell this to yourself until you believe it:

I will not sacrifice my relationships, the quality of my work or the quality of my life because I am afraid to say no. Sometimes, saying no to a collaboration or project does more benefit to all parties than saying yes and pushing through. If I can’t give something 100%, I shouldn’t do it.

Saying no will give me more opportunity to help than to hurt relationships: it fosters respect, and gives an opportunity for me to support another business through referrals.

I commit to quality over quantity, and to making sure that I’m giving everything my best self. The alternative is a disaster for my business and for my personal life. Saying “no” can be a really great thing.

After talking to some business owner friends, including my business coaches Becky + Jesse, I have some advice for my fellow people-pleasers:

3 strategies to know when to say “no”

  1. Make a list of all the things that are most important to you. Things that you might have to give up if you say yes to too many projects. It could be family time, reading, dog snuggling, traveling. They could also be important business items like writing blog posts or developing a newsletter that rocks your subscribers’ socks. Look at this list and ask yourself if you’re willing to give up some of those for this project. Ask yourself which ones do the most benefit to you and your business. (Thanks for this one, Becky!)
  2. Brainstorm all of the things that could get in the way of executing this project perfectly. Maybe its other client projects, family obligations, trips you have planned, things you HAVE to do. Look at that list and ask yourself if you can give enough time and energy to this new project when you have all those other things going on.
  3. Meditate on it. Imagine yourself going through every step of the project. What are you pushing aside to get it done? How do you imagine yourself feeling in those moments? Imagine if something went awry, would you have the time and energy to fix it?

If you don’t have an answer at the end of all this: set a time limit. If you haven’t made a decision in one hour, that’s probably a sign that you need to say no.

After committing to these steps, I was asked to do more styled shoots in May. They sounded amazing! And before establishing the promise to myself I outline above, I would have said yes. Instead, I said, “Even though I’d love to, I’m won’t be able to participate right now because I wouldn’t be able to give it 100%. Hopefully, we can work together on something else soon!” No fear of missing out, no fear of letting them down and never working with them again. They all understood and were grateful for my fast response and my honesty. Saying “no” can be oh so good!

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