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How to say No to your Customers

Why do so many of us act like we’re slaves to our customers?

98% of you said you found it hard saying no

I asked on my Instagram stories recently how many of you find it hard to say no to your customers, and the results were a whopping 98% of you saying you did find it hard. I’m pretty sure the reasons for this are because of one, if not all, of the following:

  1. You want to be flexible & reliable

  2. You’re in the early stages of your business & don’t think you should be turning down ANY work

  3. You don’t want to seem rude or unhelpful

  4. Financial reasons

  5. You feel you should be grateful for any and all work that comes your way

  6. You don’t want to let anyone down

  7. You didn’t have any personal plans anyway so might as well

I have been there my friends and let me tell you its hard work being available ALL of the time, trying to please everyone, and this will quickly lead you to burn out, not enjoy what you’re doing, feel like you have absolutely no time to yourself and have zero work – life balance.

Let me just remind you of one fact. The beauty of being your own boss is that you get to pick and choose who you work with, when you work, and when you have time out. So why do so many of us act like we’re slaves to our customers?? Probably again because of the reasons above!

Obviously this is all within reason, I mean the nature of the job means we have to be reliable and not just keep taking days off unannounced every week because otherwise your customers are going to find someone else who is more reliable BUT that doesn’t mean we have to be on call and burn out due to exhaustion and take on jobs we really don’t want to do. There has to be some work – life balance.

So how do we say no?  For me it comes down to these 3 things:

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Mindset, Boundaries & Communication


I think for many of us we ASSUME that if we say no to a last minute request or to working a Sunday when we already have family plans, that the customer is going to be annoyed, they’re going to be stuck and have no other option, or they’re going to be funny with you next time you speak to them. When in reality they aren’t thinking that at all and it’s all in your head. We need to stop ASSUMING that we are their only option and that we’ll ruin their day if we say no. We probably also assume they will think badly of us, but think about it, if you try to book a hair dresser appointment and they can’t do the day you want, do you feel let down, fuming, or swear never to use their service again? (I hope not!) So why would your customer feel like that towards you?

If it’s that you have had a new request or met a new customer and you feel it’s not a good fit or something about it is putting you off a little but you feel like you have to say yes because you’re a new business, then trust your instincts. Politely let them know you are unable to help them this time, better yet recommend someone else. Taking on and saying yes to someone who just doesn’t seem right for you will take the space of another customer who would have been a much better fit. Read more here on mindset & taking breaks without feeling guilty.


It is HUGELY important to have boundaries in place with your customers to avoid confusion, awkwardness and to also have clear working hours/days. For example if you want Sunday to be your day off every week or you want to switch off your work phone at 7pm then make that clear from the start and stick to it. I cover the importance of boundaries and how to implement them in more detail here if you want to read more on this.


Make sure you are communicating with your customers and that they know what days you do and don’t work, your working hours, and give them plenty of notice if you’re having any days off or a holiday. Nobody can be annoyed with you for having time off, let’s face it, they all do and rightly so don’t feel guilty about it for a second!

Overall, give yourself a break, you’re not an on call service, and saying yes to everything and anything will more likely have a detrimental effect on your business and your health.

Are you struggling with work life balance or want some extra one to one support and advice?  Click here for info on working with me on YOUR business and how I can help you.

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