Learn To Say NO
A Small Word That Leads to Bigger Success in Business
If you have kids, you might remember their very first words. Was it “Mommy” or “Daddy”? Congratulations! My son’s first word was “NO!” Or at least that’s the one I remember the most, because it was pronounced with such conviction 😉
Isn’t it amazing how as infants we have so much self-esteem and no fear or guilt of voicing our disagreement, and then as we get older we lose that and constantly want to please everyone?
Especially when starting our own small business, we feel insecure, we feel as if we have to say yes to any opportunity, without realizing that it can slowly lead our business to failure.
Below are 5 situations in which it is important for you to learn how to say “NO”..
Learn to say NO to doing everything yourself..
As a small business owner you probably have a limited budget and therefore think you have to do everything yourself: marketing, accounting, scheduling, networking, etc., etc. But wearing all these different hats will quickly lead to overwhelm, since you’re not focusing on your core business, on what you’re good at. I’ll give you an example: I dislike routine tasks! They bore me and so I get very sloppy and make mistakes. However, in order to have a decent presence on Twitter, I want to have some scheduled tweets every month. So you know what I did? I outsourced this monthly task to a virtual assistant. She’s much faster than me, and I can focus my energy on more important tasks such as client acquisition, for example. Don’t do everything yourself! Virtual assistants are a great help for small business owners!
Learn to say NO to getting your brain picked in exchange for a coffee..
“Can we meet for coffee, I’d like to ask you some questions?” Ah, how I used to dread this question … I knew very well that the person just wanted to pick my brain and not pay me for my know-how. But there was always this thought in the back of my head: “What if he’s actually interested in my services?” If you want your business to grow, you will want to be very firm with your “coffee meetings.” Yes, some of them will be worth your time, others just won’t. Listen to your gut, and start to say “NO” to those you know just want to pick your brain. Suggest a Skype call instead, or answer their questions in a blog post.
Learn to say NO to too many extra projects..
As entrepreneurs, we never lack creativity. There are so many ideas we could turn into projects. But in order to succeed you need focus. Don’t spread yourself too thin or you will not be able to give your very best. This applies to your own ideas, but also to other people’s ideas: joint ventures, collaborations, etc.
Learn to say NO to some of the demands of daily living..
If you work from your home office, you are probably familiar with some of the following demands of daily living:
- You need to be available for a worker that comes to fix your dishwasher.
- You agree to have your kids friends over for lunch because their mom is working (and you are not?!).
- You volunteer at your son’s school to help out with homework supervision.
- You commit to baking two cakes for the yearly neighborhood barbeque.
You are not superman/superwoman! Just because you work from home, doesn’t mean that you can accomplish superhuman things and need to be available for everybody. Learn to say “NO” to some of the non-critical demands that are placed on you.
Learn to say NO to clients who are not a good fit..
This is another difficult one. Especially in the beginning you will be tempted to say “YES” to every client that comes your way. But that’s not a good strategy. If you take on clients who are not a good fit, or who exhaust or frustrate you, you won’t be able to do your very best work. And this will then further complicate the collaboration, because the clients get irritated, complain, don’t pay, etc. Or, on the other hand, they are happy with your work and refer you to their friends, and you then end up with more clients who are not an ideal fit for you! So either way, the outcome won’t be good. Michael Port says that every business owner should have a red velvet rope policy: “Think about a red carpet event. They only let certain people through, and the people who do come through feel like VIPs. That’s how your clients should feel – like they are incredibly fortunate to be working with you.”
I’d love to hear from you! What do you need to say “NO” to right now?