Should You Say “No” To Earning Extra Income?

Natalie MacNeil talks about when to say no to extra income opportunities

Here’s a common scenario so many entrepreneurs ask about – say you’re a photographer whose bread and butter is taking pictures at weddings. You can always rely on that work for earning extra income, BUT you’d rather be creating your own curated shows and selling pieces. The wedding jobs just keep rolling in, which is great for your bank account, but not so great when you have no time left for what you’re really aspiring to do.

Learning to say “no” to work that would earn extra income but that’s not in line with your business goals isn’t always easy, but taking on all that work could be limiting your future success. My friend Danielle LaPorte said it best during my Limitless online summit:

“A ‘no-thank-you’ today leads to the right ‘yes’ tomorrow.” -@DanielleLaPorte via @NatalieMacNeil (Click to tweet!)

Join me for today’s episode of She Takes on the World TV and I’ll show you how to turn down work that isn’t serving your purpose while still earning the income that you need:


Click here to watch this week’s video:

To recap, here are four steps you can take to earn the income you need and have the time to grow the business of your dreams:

  1. Look at your budget and figure out if you truly need that revenue stream that comes from your “bread and butter” work. If you can pay your bills without it, drop it fast!
  2. If you do need the money, figure out the minimum amount of revenue you need from that stream and commit to not taking on any more work than that.
  3. Set up a schedule of non-negotiable time that you set aside solely for the purpose of developing the business of your dreams.
  4. Shift your mindset – I know what it’s like to be in a position of needing funds to build your business and being afraid to say no to any extra income. But trying imagining that every “no” you say now opens the door to a future “yes.”

My actionable for you this week is to create your own budget so you can set a cap on the number of hours you’re working on projects that don’t really light you up.


If budgets aren’t your thing, I highly recommend hiring someone to do this for you or exploring some of the great do-it-yourself resources available now like Wave, which gives you a snapshot of your business and personal finances, or LearnVest and, both of which have tools and exercises that can help you figure out your finances. Having your finances in order is the only way to shift your business to a place where you only work on things that bring you joy.

***Be sure to leave a comment below and let me know what you’re going to start saying no to so that you can start saying yes to more of what you love!***

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10 thoughts on “Should You Say “No” To Earning Extra Income?

  1. This is SO well timed for me! I “got out” of social media management in favour of teaching and creating online courses instead. . .but I just had someone ask me for a proposal. I’m finding it so hard to say no, but I already have 2 clients that I do this for and that is about all I can mentally handle (because this type of work doesn’t light me up).

    1. I can totally relate, hence this video 😉 It’s sooooo easy to continue taking on clients when you look at the money, but say “no” so you can continue focusing on your other projects and you’ll be rewarded for that. Thanks for your comment Tazim, and I look forward to seeing what you’re creating!

  2. Sometimes it’s so easy to be a ‘very busy person’. In the business of being busy, where we keep taking on work which isn’t furhtering our dream, we avoid the harsh reality: it’s going to be hard work to make dreams come true. I find it easier to say I could do XYZ BUT I am too busy to get started. So thanks for the nudge; I am in the process of re-working my business… I am doing what I want to do. Must say it’s a little scary getting started. Any advice for those days when we are tempted to ‘give in’ and take the revenue-creating job which is not furthering our dreams?

    1. Sarah, it is absolutely easy to be a “very busy person” and that’s a badge many wear with pride. I’m glad to hear you’re doing what you want to do, and I know it can feel scary. This is why I have my MAP (there are a few other episodes of She Takes on the World TV where you’ll see me talking about it, and I have the full template and worksheets in The Conquer Club). I look at this MAP I have for my business and my life almost daily and it gives me an eagle-eye view on everything. That’s where I stay focused, and that makes it easier to not give in because I see what I’m working towards. I think some sort of visual or plan that you reflect on often is really important for maintaining that laser focus and saying no to what won’t move you in the direction you desire. You’ve got this 🙂

  3. You just convinced me to go in and update my tutoring schedule for the Fall from 4 days a week to 2 days a week with longer hours (aka instead of doing 16 hours of work over 4 days, doing 10-12 hours of work over two days). That cuts out commuting time, gas money, parking money, and general hassle. Now the trick will be still learning to say “no” when they ask me if I could mayyyybe extend those hours.

    1. Mallie, I’m so glad to hear that you’ve taken action right away after this episode! Your comment lit me up so thank you for that 🙂 I love seeing people make big shifts that bring them closer to the lives they really want to be living.

  4. Your words really resonate with me. It took me years till I was able to say “no” to clients who weren’t my ideal client. Now that I can refer those clients to others, the door has opened for me to help more women who need to access their confidence and get over their fears.
    The irony was that I had to get over my own fears of not having enough money!
    To all of your readers, Natalie is right on the money with this one.

    1. Wendy, thank you for your comment and for mentioning the referrals because I think it’s a great solution to be able to recommend potential clients to other businesses that you know and trust. Sometimes you can even earn a commission if you set up a referral partnership with these businesses! It’s a win-win-win.

  5. Natalie – this video arrived at the right time for me! I’m focusing on copywriting alone, and a lot of clients also want me to write for their blogs as a ghost writer. I love writing, but blogging is a totally different ball-game to blogging!

    I end up referring those clients to writers that DO blog for a living. Saying ‘no’ early on definitely helped me stay focused.

  6. Ha! I found this at just the opportune time, after watching the “busy badge of honor” video. Today I saw a local posting for a very part time bookkeeping job. Being a work from home mom, I thought, oh, another revenue opportunity! …and sent an email right away. Now I’ll have to figure out how to back out if I get a reply. Thanks for the insight!

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