(Last Updated On: August 14, 2019)

image asking service professionals to stop making these business excuses


Perhaps you want to appear to be making money. Or maybe you want to send the message that you are on top of your game. Or you may just want to demonstrate that you’re only human.

Whatever you intend, to most people on the receiving end, you come across as unprofessional at best and a liar at worst.

What am I talking about? Business excuses Service Professionals should not use…but very often do!

I’ve wanted to talk about this for a long time but my time ran out recently when these business excuses were the topic of much discussion…and derision. By the time the unanimous decision was taken to blacklist perpetual offenders, I knew I could wait no longer.


So let me share just half a dozen of these business excuses with you.


Business Excuse # 1 - I’m so busy…


Really? The rest of us have nothing else to do but watch paint dry? I’m not even suggesting that you’re not busy but as an independent contractor, consultant, service professional, “I’m so busy” as a business excuse, just does not cut it.

You see, this is how you choose to work. You’re expected to manage your time, organize your priorities and direct your clients. And when you go on to explain your “busy” and not much of it is about serving your clients…tut, tut!


I’m not the only one who feels this way…check out how Meridith Fineman expands on this.


Business Excuse # 2 - Autoresponder: I’m on holiday and have limited access to email…

Say what? Which part of the planet are you vacationing?  Look! I’m not a techie and I still have a Blackberry but I have almost 24/7 access to email.

I’m not telling you not to go on holiday. I’m telling you to offer a message like: I’m currently out of office and will only be reading my email once a day at _____(insert time). I’ll be sure to answer your email when I do.


Or, do like me and leave no auto response message at all and just let the emails determine your response speed.


Business Excuse # 3 - I did not get your email…


Like hell! I have a read receipt that tells me when you opened it or has your email been hacked? Furthermore, the whole email delivery is getting better. Just recently, an email was sent to an address I no longer use and the “bounced” notice was forwarded to one of my present addresses.


A better approach... Tell the truth. Admit that you saw the email but you haven’t answered yet and then mention when you will. (or that you will not 


Business Excuse # 4 - I have computer problems…


I’m sure you do but as a service provider that’s not an excuse. The computer is a big part of how I deliver my services. I’m a desktop girl but I have a backup laptop and at least two other devices with computing capabilities.


Using a computer is how I make most of my money so I don’t know about you but I can’t afford computer problems. And to use “computer problems” as one of your business excuses…? Can you imagine not being able to submit a proposal for $100,000 on time because you have computer problems?


Business Excuse # 5 - I have a prior engagement...


The thing about “having a prior engagement” is that when used as an excuse, it can lead to the postponement of the event to a time when you are wonderfully free.


It works like this. Say you’re invited to a book signing on the 5th and you "declare" a prior engagement. It is likely that the author will not be done practicing his signature by the 5th and the event will be postponed to the 7th – the day on which you were looking forward to a day off. Now, not showing up might be interpreted as being rude and may even be bad for business.


The solution: Again, tell the truth. When I am invited to a cocktail party, I usually explain that attending cocktail parties bring out behavior in me that should only be displayed in the confines of my home. The results: not only am I excused by my intended host, I am “unlisted” from all future cocktail parties.


Let me add that I'm sure to turn up at as many non-cocktail events as I can.

Business Excuse # 6 - I’m only human…



Every time I hear this, I’m tempted to reply: really! I couldn’t tell by looking!


Seriously though, I notice that this is usually delivered in response to some rude or boorish behaviour or some foul-up or blunder.


The next time, before you declare “I am only human” when you mess up, remember that Warren Buffett said that a great reputation is like virginity - 'it can be preserved but it can't be restored. Once you default, it's hard to go back.


The human solution: accept responsibility for what is wrong, offer an honest apology instead of  one of your business excuses and fix the situation. Fast.


Wrapping it all up...


So there you have them – my half-dozen business excuses service professional should not use. Let me recap them for you:  

  1. I’m so busy…
  2. Autoresponder: I’m on holiday and have limited access to email…
  3. I did not get your email…
  4. I have computer problems…
  5. I have a prior engagement...
  6. I am only human…

 Do you have any more business excuses to add to this list? Just drop them in the comments section below.


To your business success...

Before I forget... 

If you would like help with your interpersonal skills do contact me


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Business Excuses Service Professionals Should Not Use

Lorna Barrow

Lorna Barrow is a Business Breakthrough Specialist, an unfiltered Transformational Speaker and a self-confessed Small Business Junkie.She uses her easy personality and vast business experience to connect with Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs, to help them acquire the soft skills they need, to rapidly scale their businesses.She also supports them with FREE resources like the E-book "How to Attract Business During a Crisis" and her popular newsletter "The Business Fix"When it comes to helping you grow your small business, Lorna's got your back!

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