How to turn down work when running a small business ?

I recently started my small custom furniture business over the summer. I’ve been making things for years and often post pictures of my projects on my personal Instagram. For Christmas I made my mom a tea kettle which came out pretty well but it was a very different and challenging project for me. It took me a ton of time and it really wasn’t an enjoyable project for me to make, as it’s mostly stainless steel and my love is in woodworking. A family friend just commented on my picture of the tea kettle from a few weeks back asking how she could commission one. I really don’t want to make another, and if I did it would cost over $500 with the amount of hours that it takes. I don’t think she’d go for that, nor do I want her to think I’m trying to rip her off, because obviously $500 would be a ridiculous amount to spend on a tea kettle. I guess I’m not sure how to politely say no. I know that this is part of running a business but I am new to this and doing my best to learn, so any positive feedback would be much appreciated. Thank you

1 Answer

  • 1 month ago
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    Just explain to her what you explained to us. Tell her that making tea kettles isn't what you are in business to do, that making one for your mother was a labour of love/something you wanted to try to see how it went/not in your true area of expertise/something you really aren't interested in doing again, and that in order to pay yourself properly for the time it takes, it would be a $500 tea kettle. Use one or all of those reasons, whichever is most accurate. We all do things for family without considering the time and effort and the recompense we'd expect if we did the same thing for a paid job, don't we? I'm sure most people can understand that. Unless she is quite well off, the price alone ought to be a sufficient deterrent.

    I'll assume that there was some wood working involved in this tea kettle. A gorgeous wood handle, or something. Maybe it's something you could add to any kettle. Maybe that's the part she liked and you could offer to do it with a ready-made kettle.

    On the other hand, having just looked up some stainless tea kettles, maybe $500 isn't as high a price as we think it is for a best quality custom-made tea kettle. Williams-Sonoma Canada has one that costs that much. Mind you, that's chromed copper. But there are more than a few in the $200-$250 range.

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