I “quit” running my own graphic design business a couple years ago. A couple weeks ago an old client, who knew I had hung up my hat on it, asked me to fix and re-order him some business cards. I asked, is the only change from the latest ordered, the phone number? He said, yes. I did not send him a proof he could see. I sent one and he said he could not read it. I confirmed the only change was phone number. He said it was.

It was not. Now he needs me to fix web address and re-order. I feel like it is my fault since the customer is always right on tiny issues like this. I now have to fix it and send it in for printing again on my dime.

I do not have time for this, which is why I quit my business. How do I say no to former clients in the future without feeling guilty and feeling like I have to help them? Thanks!

3 Answers 3


Have you tried passing the work on to someone else?

Since having kids my time is extremely limited, so what I've started doing is asking any of my old classmates if they need the work, and if they did I would simply tell my client that I wasn't going to have time but that I could recommend someone else who was more than capable. If they said yes I would send my classmate the old files and give them each other's contact details.

It's a win-win-win. I wasn't getting questions any more, the client still got what they needed, and an old friend got a bit of extra work.

If you have anyone like this you know, give it a try.


I would probably merely ignore any emails or phone calls from past clients, if possible.

But should I feel the need to respond....

Sorry, I'm no longer running this business nor supporting old projects. You will need to find another venue. Thank you.

The first thing is to not do any work, regardless of how small you think it is.

I don't understand why you'd feel "guilty" for saying no.


Politely saying 'no' is healthy practice. Do it repeatedly until it starts feeling natural !! :) Especially if you made your 'exit' official in the past and everyone was notified of you not doing this anymore.

Another thing you can do is attach the source files and approach this by saying 'look, i can't help, but here are the files which any other provider can edit for you'. This way, whether its 5 minutes or a week's work, they've got the ball.

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