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How to tactically decline a contract offer

Kerry Hull

Kerry Hull | Marketing Director

Monday 27th Jul, 2020

Turning down work can seem like an odd choice for limited company contractors, but sometimes it can actually work out better to do so.

However, there is a skill to declining a contract offer so that it does not have an impact on any future chance of work. Here is our guide on how to formally say no and how to do so without causing any upset.


When to say no to work

When working as a freelancer or a limited company contractor, it can be tempting to say yes to anything and everything that's offered to you, but occasionally there are strong reasons to decline work.


So, what are good reasons for saying no to work?

If you are busy, and have too much work on. You don't want to be in a situation where you are rushed to produce work and therefore make errors through carelessness or not putting in the correct amount of research. This could hinder your reputation or chances of further work with that client. The most experienced contract workers ensure they build in some slack into their working timetable, just in case a project overruns or there is additional work required by the client.

Alternatively, it may not be the right time to take on the work due to other commitments, such as holiday or an ongoing large-scale project with another client. In some cases, accepting new work could cause a conflict of interest with an existing client - so you may want to say yes, but not right now. This also applies if the contract offer requires equipment or skills that you don't have in place.


How to say no in the correct way

Whatever your reason for saying no, it is important the rejection is done in the correct way. Even if you do not plan to ever work with the client, you still need to give a good impression. Freelancing and contracting relies heavily on word of mouth and you don't want to be negatively viewed within your industry.


Don't burn bridges

It may be tempting to just reply with a short but sweet 'thanks, but no thanks', especially if you are under time pressures elsewhere. However, taking the time to create a professional and formal response will give a much better impression - possibly leading to further offers in the future.

Remember to explain clearly and politely why you don’t feel you can accept the offer. Be honest, yet diplomatic in your correspondence.

Don't leave sending your rejection to the last minute so that you allow enough time for the client to find someone else to complete the work. If you have a good relationship with a fellow contractor, then it may be worth recommending them so at least you are being helpful - you may also find they return the favour in the future.


Offer to keep in touch

It is likely there will be a time when you are short of contract offers and this could be the time to re-establish contact with the client. Make sure that you are clear you are certainly willing to discuss additional work in the future when it is mutually beneficial and you are in a position to say yes.


Understand the opportunity

Firstly, do not rush to reject the contract. Take some time to consider what the project is and what the client is looking for. Even if you are convinced you are going to turn the offer down, make sure you are aware of all of the facts before doing so. You never know, it may be something that only requires little work or something that could help to improve your own skills.


Can you free up time elsewhere?

Working as a limited company contractor has many benefits but you may find yourself spending more time than you planned on the admin that comes with running your own limited company. But that’s where PayStream can help. It’s vital that you have an accountant you can trust, so you can get on with what you do best. Our range of limited company accountancy services are designed to help you run your limited company on your terms and at a price which makes sense for your business. Whichever service you choose, you will benefit from free, quick and easy setup, a dedicated accounts team and 24/7 portal access.

Want more information on our limited company services?

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