For many entrepreneurs, saying no can be a difficult experience, especially when you are an early startup. Far too often, you want to please everyone and do everything as soon as you can in hopes of increasing profits. It is imperative to learn early on that saying no can be as important as saying yes. In our busy lives, as we look to please everyone, we often forget what’s most important. For me, that’s faith, family, health and my company.
When deciding whether to respond with a “yes” or a “no,” keep in mind: You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. Use these ten (10) tips to help you remember why the NOs are as important as the YESes to your business.
Saying No – Tip 1: Keep the Clutter Out
The more you add to your plate, the less focus you have and the less attention you can pay to the things that really matter to you. Don’t let the distractions get the best of you.
Saying No – Tip 2: Don’t Dilute Yourself
The more often you say yes, the more you dilute yourself, especially in regard to your single most important focus. As you stretch yourself thinner by trying to do everything, you lose sight of your goals and may even get frustrated and burnt out.
Saying No – Tip 3: Think Strategically
Saying no allows you to think strategically about the future. You may feel sure that you want something now, but you should evaluate how — and whether — it might benefit you in the future.
Having everything right now can be fun, but it may not pay off in the long run. Say “no” to things that may distract you from your goals and say “yes” to what’s most important to you and to achieve your goals.
Saying No – Tip 4: When You’re Overextending Yourself
Sometimes, the timing just isn’t right, and you won’t have the resources to say “yes” to a new opportunity — and you’ll know it. Let’s say you just finished expanding your business premises, and someone approaches you to take part in a new venture or partnership. The temptation may be there to dive in, but you know you’ve nearly maxed out your line of credit and also can’t spare any employees for the new project. Don’t overextend yourself. Just say “no.”
Saying No – Tip 5: When Long-Term Costs Exceed Short-Term Benefits
There are occasions when a chance offers a clear short-term benefit — a position with a good title, an investor who offers to save your cash-strapped company in exchange for a 50% ownership stake. However, you are well aware that there will be considerable long-term costs. Perhaps the opportunity with better benefits offers few prospects for advancement and pushes you to focus on a field you don’t particularly enjoy. Alternatively, you value autonomy and control and see that being a co-owner will only cause you problems in the future.
Saying No – Tip 6: When You are Splitting too Much of Your Time
I have seen many entrepreneurs do this often, with four or five business ideas bubbling away simultaneously. One fantastic business is worth a lot more than several bad ones. Splitting your time, focus, and dedication between many projects is nearly impossible. Focus on one and make it shine
Saying No – Tip 7: When You Don’t Have the Capacity
As a business owner, it’s important to know what amount of work your team can take on. You will likely have opportunities that will be difficult to pass up, but do a thorough audit of each team member’s capacity for the work they currently do before accepting more responsibility. You want to be sure that everyone has the capacity and the ability to deliver on new commitments and wow your new client.
Read More: Startup Dreams should Focus on Time
Saying No – Tip 8: When the Numbers Don’t Support the Decision
You can feel great and get excited about a business opportunity, but if a spreadsheet can’t validate a worst-case scenario, a business owner should probably pass. Common examples could be around extending an employment offer for a new role or taking on a new cost at the expense of another opportunity. Before saying no or yes to an opportunity, run the best and worst-case calculations to see what would happen to the business with either route.
Saying No – Tip 9: When a Toxic Client Wants to Do Business
It is likely that 80% or more of the external friction your business faces comes from 20% or fewer of your customers (The #paretoprinciple). Business owners should consider “firing” problematic customers and applying the physical and emotional energy of their team towards finding and servicing more ideal clients. Saying no to continuing your toxic business relationships can pay dividends for the success of your company. Passing on toxic clients can reduce your company’s turnover, increase efficiency, and allow you to focus on what makes your company great.
Saying No – Tip 10: When a Different Option could Lead to Better Returns
As a business owner, you have to take a lot of risks. Risks are a good thing; it’s hard to succeed without risking failure, and you tend to learn a lot from it. With that said, it’s important to understand the scope of the risk you’re facing when met with an opportunity. Sometimes, risks aren’t limited to how you might fail. Instead, they pertain to how much you might win. The forgone benefit of an option not chosen is just as important to consider. In other words, you must consider whether the opportunity in front of you is the best possible opportunity available. If a different choice could lead to better returns, then be sure to fully evaluate the scope of your options before allocating time, capital, and internal resources.
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