…building a business: “can i have it by tomorrow?”


If you run a creative business or anything in the building or design business or anything that is CUSTOM then you know the frustration of when a client or a potential client asks if you can have it finished for them next week. What?!

Does anything custom take a week or two weeks? When I go to an upholsterer or have a pillow made I wait on average 8 WEEKS!


(What a patient husband.)

I think it is important for everyone involved, including you & your client, that what you both are embarking on is an effort to create something unique and wonderful. The artist has the joy of creating it and the client has the pleasure of taking the piece home. When it is a rushed timeline or an unrealistic one then no one will appreicate the effort, time and energy that is put into creating something from nothing. It should be special and special takes time.

Yes, there are times that we have more things going on in our lives like vacation time or birthday time or holiday time and it’s hard to give an exact delivery date. Or maybe something unforseen happens like you fall down the stairs and crack your head open or your five-year-old gets a stomach bug that puts your life on pause for a full week. In these moments it’s best to manage the expectation of your client and tell them what is going on and when you expect to have their project finished. Life happens and we can’t alway predict everything.

There are some people out there that will push & push until they get what they want. Maybe they were raised this way. Maybe this has worked for them in the past. It does not mean that you are required to take on their pre-conceived expectations. It is okay to say “No, here is when you can expect me to have the piece finished.”

The client may not like this and then they have a choice. They can choose to be grumpy about it, but comply to your restrictions or they can choose to find someone else to help them. Either way, working within your guidelines for time will make you happier and less stressed.

I think of the old Heinz Ketchup commercial, “Good things come to those who wait.”






  1. Great advice! And the Heinz commercial……Spot On!!!

  2. Very well said! I am enjoying this segment of your blog as I am just starting out and I have a client dropping off a piece Monday ~ Yikes!

  3. I totally agree with you. Once upon a time I had a very successful photography business, learning to set boundaries with people was one of the hardest things I had to learn how to do. Most people are understanding, but those overly demanding ones can suck the joy out of you. Good for you for standing up for yourself & you business!
    Many blessings! Amy

  4. Well said. Boundaries are good not just in business but in everyday life to. Children and teenagers need them or you could be in for a whole lot of trouble! Great advice thanks for sharing.

  5. Christen,
    I just want to say how much I enjoy your blog. You have a beautiful home and family and I have been praying for you since your fall. I really appreciate the business posts you do and about not taking on more than you are comfortable with. My sister-in-law and I just opened a shop in Maryland and have started taking custom orders and I will keep all your tips in mind.

  6. Great advice as always Christen! I have to say “No” to a few customers who were wanting table and chairs done too quickly before Thanksgiving. While I could appreciate the need for a pretty new set, I just knew it would be a disaster in terms of timing and b/c the paint and wax wouldn’t be cured. Thanks for all you do!

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