In my few years of business, I have learned several lessons – about business, about design, about customer service, and about myself. One thing I’ve learned about being a freelancer, and have had to re-teach myself several times, is that you cannot be all things to all people.

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I’m not a business coach, I can’t help you make major business choices. 

I’m not a copywriter, I can’t help you write your website content. 

I’m not a web developer, I can’t write in-depth code for your website. 

Recently, a client referred me to a business in the area who needed a web designer. I was really excited for the chance to work with this company, especially because they’re local and I really love being able to help businesses in the area. 

Related: Letting Go of Your Business Could be the Best Thing You Do

So, we set up a time to talk on the phone and hash out the details of their website. But, a few minutes into the conversation, I realized that some of what they wanted was over my skill level. I knew in my gut, that I wouldn’t be able to do this. 

But, I didn’t want to lose a client! 

And, I did NOT want to admit that I wasn’t skilled enough to handle this. 

The lesson I’ve learned and had to re-teach myself: don’t take on projects that are over your head (there’s a difference between pushing yourself a bit, and stupidly taking on projects that you really can’t handle). It’s stressful, and can end badly – for both parties. 

I’ve built my business on being honest, and always wanting (and doing) what’s best for my clients. So, I humbly (and voice trembling) told them the truth:

“I’m going to be 100% honest. What you’re wanting is going to take more coding than I can handle. You want your website to reflect the wonderful work that you do, which is amazing – because too many people throw up a website that doesn’t accurately reflect them. And, if I were to do your website, it wouldn’t be what you truly want. I want you to have the best website you can, and you won’t get it from me, but I do have someone I can refer you to do create a website for you.”

I fully expected them to just be like, “Okay, bye.”

But, instead? They told me how much they respected my honesty, and appreciated how I run my business with such integrity. And that, even though they wouldn’t be working with me, they would recommend me to anyone needing a designer. 

WHAT?

I don’t like to admit when I can’t do something.

Well, no one probably does. And here, I just admitted my incapability to a client and lost them. I don’t like to admit I can’t do something because it makes me feel inferior. A failure. (Even though there are plenty of graphic designers who can’t do web development.)

Sometimes, being honest is hard. But, sometimes the hardest thing to do can be the best thing to do for your business. 

Sometimes the hardest thing to do can be the best thing to do for your business.

You cannot be all things to all people. If you want to be a jack of all trades, go for it. But, don’t kill yourself in the process of trying to do that. 

What about you? What lessons have you learned? 

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