Running a business often means saying yes to opportunities to grow and market your business. However, successful business owners also have to learn to say no just as often to protect precious energy, time and resources. Here are some places to draw a firm line for the sake of a thriving business:
ALIGN WITH YOUR GOALS
In a general sense, it’s wise to only say yes to decisions that help you get closer to the goals you’ve set for your business, says Todd Horton, CEO of KangoGift, a technology company with an HR platform.
“For example, if growing your customer base is key, then be flexible on pricing to gain traction. If profitability is important, say no to potential customers who want a [steep] discount.”
Additionally, Horton says, don’t compromise your values. “Think about how you want to lead your company and draw a hard line when your values, company mission, and ethics are tested.”
Businesses require capital investments and overhead costs, but owners should be wary of unnecessary spending, even in the form of small costs that can add up.
“Many times I see entrepreneurs spending money unnecessarily…typically in the form of lunch or coffee meetings, and networking or education,” says Amanda Kendall, owner of Elevating Profits LLC, a tax and financial advisory company.
Another area where it’s easy to waste time and money, Kendall says, is networking. “Many small business entrepreneurs attend [networking events] but have no idea what their return on investment is on these,” she says.
She recommends that you make sure to track your return from networking groups before you decide if they’re worth continuing to invest in.
SAY NO TO SCOPE CREEP
It’s easy for small business owners to go above and beyond in providing service, but it’s very important for the long-term health of a business to get all expectations of service in a written contract to avoid what is known as “scope creep.” That is where the demands or expectations extend beyond the agreed project scope. Business owners need to be vigilant in order to push back against it, says Marissa Ryan, Co-Founder of VisualFizz, a digital marketing agency.
“Try to forecast when/where scope creep might happen and be upfront with your clients when it does happen,” Ryan says.
She encourages a sample script such as: “This is out of current development scope. Our rate for X is… is this something you’d be interested in adding to the current scope of work?”
Ryan says that drawing firm lines about what you’ll be giving your customers and clients not only makes sure your current clients are getting the best work possible, it also ensures that you are getting compensated fairly and can help prevent burnout.
SAY NO RATHER THAN OVERCOMMITTING
If you find yourself overcommitting or pushing past your own boundaries in any way, Nate Garvis, co-founder of Studio/E, says “Feel empowered to say no any time a request is outside of your set parameters.”
This requires knowing your priorities and goals up front, but it also means trusting your intuition. “Do a gut check. Does something feel off? Your gut will tell you if so,” Garvis says.
PAUSE TO REFLECT
Sometimes saying no requires giving yourself a moment to think through something. “Remove yourself from the moment,” Garvin urges. “Try to get a birds-eye view to understand what you’ll have to say no to later if you say yes to this opportunity now.”
If you find you’re still not an expert at saying no, Garvin encourages you to practice. “The more you say no, the more you’ll get used to it. Plus you’ll see how your world doesn’t crumble when you say no, so you’ll be more willing to follow your gut when you know yes is the wrong answer."