As much as it may go against the very nature of a strong entrepreneurial leader, saying no is as empowering as your first day of business, your first big sale or your biggest success to date.
The best part? While many of the milestones happen only once, the bold decision to say “NO” can happen (and should happen!) many times on your business journey.
But beware the enticing high of saying no- it’s not always the best way forward, as being a successful business owner is also very much centered around taking risks and being bold.
So how do you know when to say no?
The basic question itself is part of the described risk- you may get it wrong. There are, however, several specific situations in which you may want to rethink the ‘yes-man/woman’ attitude your fearless spirit has embraced.
One of the clearest areas to steer yourself away from while growing a business is special treatment. Whether in retail, customer service, or production there will always be a customer who asks for something additional, or outside of the realm of your usual service/product.
This is a slippery slope. At a time in which you have ample resources, an overflow of cash in hand and time that is simply not being utilized, sure! Go ahead and accommodate that request. Likelihood of that ever being the case? Slim to none.
While taking customer requests and building them into your future models, you may eventually benefit from these asks, but while building a small business, learn when to say no to a special request.
The next awkward but necessary time you may need to say no is when deciding not to take on a potential client or customer.
As a small business owner, you will come across these situations in likely three ways:
- Saying no to someone you know and like (think family or friend or colleague)
- Saying no to someone you know and don’t like
- Saying no to a referral
While handled delicately and probably differently, one business columnist suggests to always employ the “Thanks, but no thanks” strategy.
Always start with the positives, be clear about your reasons why not and be as honest as possible without crossing over to cruel or insensitive.
A good model for inspection when deciding if it’s a no-go is:
- Are you already at capacity?
- Does this match your mission statement/values/goals?
- Is it profitable? Is it marketable? Is it in your niche?
After you come to your decision, remember that a no should be bolstered by “I can’t” and should as often as possible be delivered in the form of “I don’t”.