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  • BONUM Staff

Reasons to Decline an Opportunity Amid a Pandemic

Your investment in marketing has paid-off; someone is interested in your services. What a great feeling, especially in the context of the challenging economic climate. But before scheduling the meeting or drawing up the contract, pause to consider - is your gut telling you something you do not necessarily want to hear?

There are some very good reasons to decline an opportunity. Basically, it comes down to an unavoidable fact: taking on a contract you are unhappy with can end badly. A misaligned client can devour valuable operational time and resources with the possibility of a bad review.

Do any of the following reasons apply to your situation?

Reason 7: Unpaid Work

This may seem like a no brainer, but it bears repeating in the context of today's challenging times. Do not work for free as a part of the hiring process, for exposure, or because somebody tells you that you must. There is a difference between working for a fair and even exchange or responding to a mock scenario and performing tasks that would normally receive compensation.

Reason 6: Unmanaged Expectations

Expectations can go unstated, continually change, or be out of the range of what is achievable. Ask questions to clarify expectations upfront and provide defining information on deliverables. Do not ignore little signals of misalignment which could blossom into major friction if your intuition is right.

Reason 5: The Corporate Culture Doesn’t Feel Right

If, for example, your company's ethos includes responsible sourcing yet your prospective client benefits from forced labor abroad, it might not be a fit. This may seem like a small or irrelevant disconnect, but values shape business practices. A misalignment in this area can result in a conflict of conscience.

Reason 4: More Interested in You than Your Services

LinkedIn has been notoriously misused by some for more personal than professional purposes since its launch. With social distancing, the frequency of incidences seems to be on the rise. Reaching out under the guise of work, but with an ulterior or additional motive hurts business in productivity, reputation, value, etc. If you believe someone may be interested in more than your work, walk away (no rebuttals).

Reason 3: The Work Is Outside of Your Focus

You could be setting yourself up for failure by working outside your focus or industry. In today's business environment, you may be tempted to take what opportunities come and adjust where needed. However the quality of work may suffer which could impact client satisfaction and your reputation. Unless this is a strategic growth area, focus on your strengths.

Reason 2: Your Resources or Priorities are Occupied Elsewhere

If your resources are already maxed-out or allocated to adjusting your business practices for today's reality, consider whether you have the capacity to take on another contract and provide quality. If not, do the business community a favor by giving a referral.

Reason 1: The Terms of The Offer Are Unsatisfactory

A low profit margin. Short turn-around time. Demanding expectations. If there are serious gaps in how your negotiations turned out, these can lead to resentment and frustration. Remember terms can be impossible to change once the offer is accepted.

How to Decline An Offer Graciously

  • Regardless of the reason, there are ways of declining business to keep the door open for future opportunities.

  • Let the prospective client know as soon as you have made your decision, so that you don’t unnecessarily keep them waiting

  • Use the personal touch. Speak directly to the person, being brief and upbeat. There is no reason for a lengthy conversation that gets into gritty details.

  • Mention that you would like to leave the door open for the future, when circumstances may have changed.

Turning down an offer should not be done lightly. Throughout the process assess the merit of the opportunity. If it does not meet your minimum standards then you may be better off to politely decline. Focus your energy where you can make the greatest impact.


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