What often separates those with massive success and those that end up average is their ability to turn down work.

When I did IT audit the biggest thing that separated our company from the big four accounting firms was our inability to serve large companies. Large companies come with larger budgets, better margins, and longer smoother engagements.

It wasn’t that we didn’t have the staff or that our staff wasn’t as good. In fact our IT people ran circles around most any other firm.

The problem is that we never said no to clients that weren’t as profitable. We were too busy with small clients to focus on winning large clients.

We’d burn through staff people running them all over the country for one week jobs. They grew tired of the travel and tired of the pressure. Eventually I was one of those staff.

That same thing happens in small business and particularly the fitness industry. Type A, motivated people often fail because they can’t say no. They try to promote every way they can, serve every customer, and they never become really great at one thing. They’re not so great at everything. You never get famous for being mediocre.

I see fitness experts who have a chance to be really great in one area. They’re borderline famous in one domain, but they have 10 websites. All of those sites are profitable, but none of them are going to make them rich. Their one area of real expertise never reaches it’s potential.

Projects that make lots of money don’t come from chasing small dollar amounts and short term gains. Are the projects you’re working on now going to lead to high dollars 5 years from now? Is this really going to bring me the gains I want for the effort involved?

Even successful guys who are relatively focused, who know where their expertise lies, hold themselves back.

How many products are you going to launch this year? What if you could launch just one more? Chances are that one product launch is worth more than all of your speaking engagements, random chapters in other people’s books, personal coaching, etc. Obviously much of this work you may enjoy and it builds goodwill, but there’s probably plenty you can cut.

If you turned down just a few things, how much better could you be at what really matters? The more work you have, the more all of it suffers. How much happier would you be with less pressure?

One final note. The most important work you do, is usually your personal projects. These are also the first things we skip when time runs out. The work you love will always be your best work, and it is often what attracts the best clients. If you cut back on what you don’t enjoy, you’ll have more time for what you do.

-Allen

One Response to Turn Down More Work

  1. Jay says:

    Allen, Fantastic post. This is really speaks to my situation. I am a product design consultant and have several personal projects/ products that I am developing that continually land on the back burner because I never say no to work. I often feel like I’m bending over dollars to pick up pennies.

    Incidentally, I landed on your blog from this morning Tim Ferriss post. I shared with you my learn to surf story in the comments. Go for it.

    Cheers

    Jay

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