Solopreneurs: Aim High, but Know Your Limits

Solopreneurs are small but mighty. We’re also one-person businesses with limitations in addition to our strengths. Preserving our non-employee small business status sometimes means making tough decisions and turning some assignments away. It’s usually a matter of capacity more so than capability, but that doesn’t make it any easier to say “no.” Especially when you need to say “no” to existing clients who you enjoy working with.

Just recently, one of my clients approached me with a project opportunity larger than any I had ever encountered. It potentially could have added nearly 20% to my projected revenue for the year – a nice chunk of change for sure. BUT after getting a clearer grasp of all it would entail, I determined I couldn’t take on the entire breadth of it. Even with outsourcing some of the work to other writers as independent contractors under me, I wouldn’t have the capacity to manage the full scope and keep up with my other ongoing assignment commitments and business responsibilities.

It made me sad to walk away from such a financially substantive project opportunity, but I know my limits. I’ve learned working around the clock isn’t healthy nor is it a productive way to do business. I know that accepting too much work in a short time frame sacrifices quality.

So what do you do when you’re faced with an opportunity that would stretch you and your solo-business a bit too thin?

Don’t think every project needs to be “all or nothing.”

Even if you can’t handle all aspects of the project, perhaps your client would be willing to use your services for a portion of it. You’d still be an asset, without overtaxing yourself. Yes, your client would need to find other resources to help, too. But chances are that would be the case anyway.

Think about it. If you can’t manage the entire scope of work, it’s likely other solopreneurs in your field won’t be able to either.

With the ginormous project that recently crossed my path, I gave my client rates for specific components of the assignment. I also shared the volume of work I could commit to on a weekly basis as the project progresses.

I haven’t heard whether or not my proposal has the green light yet. If it doesn’t get the nod, it would be a bit of a loss because even the skinnied down scope I proposed would bring notable income. But I’ll be at peace knowing I made the right decision and haven’t overcommitted to more than I can handle.

Solopreneurs, as you build your business you’ll discover your strengths – and your limitations – along the way. Aim high, but be realistic about how much you can manage effectively.

Your turn! How have you handled telling clients “no” to projects that were larger than you could comfortably manage?

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