One of the guiding principles I’ve learned is the importance of being willing to say no to a project, even if it makes financial sense to accept it.

If the project doesn’t fall in line with my principles, I won’t accept it. In the short run it may hurt, but longterm it establishes core values for myself that set me up to succeed. I have two simple criteria for deciding what projects I won’t accept.

  1. Does the project match my ethics?

    I live by moral ethics that help to guide my life. As a business owner I apply these ethics to my business when deciding what projects I will and won’t accept. A simple question to ask is whether you could use the product or service that the website is offering without going against your principles. If the answer is no, I don’t take the project. For example, if the website sells porn, I won’t work on it. If I couldn’t honestly use the service or product myself, I won’t work on it.

    While the line of ethics will vary by individual, I’ve set that line much further out than most people. Since I don’t smoke, drink, or gamble, and since I believe those three activities lend themselves toward injury and pain in families, then I don’t believe in supporting these activities by developing websites associated with them. Now, just to clarify, these are my personal choices, I don’t force this opinion on anyone else. I believe in the freedom to choose.

  2. Does the project add value to the world?

    I’ve messed up on this one in the past. I’ve taken on projects that were uninspired, improperly managed, or just plain bad ideas. As such the projects have generally gone down hill. Basically, if it’s something I wouldn’t be proud to say that we’ve worked on it, it’s ultimately not worth doing.

I’ve said no to a good number of projects. My values are important to me. Once I had a project offer for a website that didn’t fall in line with my principles. In good faith I couldn’t make use of the service myself. I decided to turn down the project, even though the financial benefit would have been helpful. That same day I was contacted by an organization who’s values matched mine completely. And the project’s budget was much larger. Now, I’m not going to say this always happens, but in the end it’s worth saying no to a project that doesn’t match your values. You’ll be able to sleep well at night.