As a business owner in a small town, I know it can feel like you’re constantly barraged with requests for donations, to serve on committees or groups and to volunteer for good causes. You cannot and should not say yes to them all. You have to learn to say no. Oklahoma native and now Netherlands resident Stephanie Ward has excellent advice on how to grow your business by saying no. –Becky
As a business owner your time is precious.
You probably have multiple requests from people that are pulling you in many directions.
But, if you say yes to every invitation that comes your way, you will not have time for the activities that are critical to growing your business.
What I frequently hear from my clients is that they don’t have enough time for everything that needs to be done in their businesses.
Since we all have the same amount of time, it really comes down to making choices.
So how do you know what to choose?
Start by making a list of the strategic activities that are essential to the growth of your business. These are the actions to say yes to.
Say no to anything that doesn’t fall under your strategic activities. This is what it means to set business boundaries.
It may sound simple, but many people find that saying no is an extremely difficult thing to do.
What’s keeping you from saying no more often?
Reasons People Are Afraid to Say No
* Fear of conflict
* Wanting to be liked
* Afraid of not being asked again
* Feeling guilty
* Unsure about how to say it
Have you ever agreed to do something and then later felt angry, anxious, or overwhelmed about it wishing you had said no?
Saying yes when you want to say no is a huge energy drain and distracts you from the things you really want to do for your business.
“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” Josh Billings
The good news is that saying no is like any new skill, with practice is becomes much easier. And even better, it is extremely empowering. Start with something small and build from there.
Remember, you don’t have to give an answer on the spot. If someone asks you to do something and you’re not sure, you can always say something like “let me check my schedule and I’ll get back to you.” That way you have time to consider what is best for your business.
Just because someone else wants your time doesn’t mean it’s always a fit for you. Before you agree to meet up with someone in person make sure that it’s even necessary.
Sometimes if you first ask for more information via email, that will tell you everything you need to know to make a decision about how to move forward.
And if you determine you would like to talk with the person, go for a phone call or video Skype first. You can always meet later if things progress.
Many times if you’re not sure, this may be an indication that the answer is no. Have you heard the expression: “Doubt means don’t”?
In addition, you may be surprised to find that most people respect your answer, even when it is a no. If they don’t, it may be a sign that it is not a balanced relationship.
“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say ‘no’ to other things. And this way you do that is by having a biggger ‘yes’ burning inside.” Stephen R. Covey
Setting boundaries in your business will create more space and energy for you to move forward and reach your goals faster and easier.
And that’s not all; when you set and enforce your boundaries you will have more confidence, be more attractive, and feel more relaxed.
Why not start saying no today? Once you know how you want to use your time, it will be easy to identify things you can say no to. This will create time for strategic action.
When you say yes only to the most important (and profitable) actions for your business you will see your business grow.
© Stephanie Ward
Stephanie Ward is the Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs who want to create meaningful and prosperous businesses. Grab your FREE copy of the special report ‘7 Steps to Attract More Clients in Less Time’ plus business building tips, at: http://www.fireflycoaching.com.
What kind of things do you say ‘no’ to? How do you say it? Share your experiences below in the comments section.
Stephanie Ward says
Many thanks for sharing my post, Becky. It’s not always easy to say no, and it can sure make a big difference in your business and your life.
Becky McCray says
Thanks, Stephanie, for allowing me to share it. Especially in small towns, we want to be nice and we care about our community. So we have to work at saying no in order to say yes when it counts.
WOW! Does this hit close to home! In addition to being the sole proprietor of my own business I gladly work on development, tourism, marketing, and more for our small community (as do other volunteers), but recently I decided something had to give. So … I offered to devote 1½ days per week solely to community work as a paid consultant. Hopefully, this will be approved at our development group’s next board meeting. Of course, I will be giving more of my time than I get paid for, after all it is my community too. It is just that I reached a point where the community work is interfering with my making a living. We’re setting it up on 6 month contracts. I think it will be good for all parties involved. I’ll try to let you all know how it works out.
Becky McCray says
Jim, that’s an innovative way to address the problem. I’m glad the board is open to the idea.
You know, my friend Deb Brown started as just a volunteer for several local tourism and heritage organizations, then she worked for the chamber as a part time person, then they realized how much more valuable she was, and then she moved to working for a neighboring chamber full time. It’s an interesting progression.
Holly Ortolani says
Thanks Becky for posting this. It is very hard to say “no”. Your suggestions are wonderful. My hardest are the sports teams, booster clubs and musicals. The schools have cut funding for these wonderful programs so much and they are turning to the local businesses to help out. I figured out a nice way to sort them out. If a parent asks me to give to their child’s organization, I politely say, “Have your child come in and tell me about their organization and what the money is used for and I would be glad to give a donation.” I am a retired teacher and think it IS VERY important that kids of all ages have “people” skills and should see and know who is donating to their programs. Some parents will bring their child back and some think it is a waste of their child’s time. Sorted!
Becky McCray says
Holly, that is a sane and smart way to handle it. I know a lot of people will benefit from that. Thank you so much for sharing.