Just as consumers can be selective when it comes to which companies they would like to work with, businesses may be equally well-served to be as choosy when it comes to whom they wish to take on as customers or clients, especially if it is a new business.

In a recent story in the New York Times, several small business owners were queried on this issue – whether they accepted any offerings that came their way, or if they carefully considered a situation before making a commitment. Among those interviewed, the consistent response was that selectivity goes a long way towards establishing a firm foundation, creating a favorable image, and building a solid business.

While rejecting any potential income may seem counterintuitive when it comes to generating business, some successful entrepreneurs say that choosing clients that are in tune with your underlying business and ethical philosophies translates into a stronger business presence down the road. According to web consultant Jordhy Ledesma “…try to choose positivity for any kind of brand association…ask yourself what sort of company you want to build.”

And, as the client base builds, deciding whom to work with or not gets easier because of these shared standards.

However, there is an important caveat attached to this pick-and-choose approach: Businesses must be careful not to blur the line between selectivity and discrimination. Almost every state has laws that specifically address this issue and businesses must become familiar with those for their states.

Says Savannah attorney Charles J. Bowen, “If someone comes in and they’re rude or unruly or disorderly, any private business can absolutely refuse to serve that person… [however]…you can’t do it just because of some kind of unlawful discrimination.”

While compromise may be an important aspect of business negotiations, those businesses that establish a profile of essential client characteristics that reflect their own standards may find that the long-term gain surpasses any short-term growing pains.


Kelly, Caitlin and Stacy Cowley (contributor). “Being Picky About Customers Early On Can Bolster Long-Term Success,” The New York Times. August 26, 2015.