Most people struggle with saying no in business but it's so important. You can't do everything.
Why can't we say no?
There's lots of reasons that we take on too much and why we end up doing things that aren't really what we love doing. Do any of these sound familiar?
- Don't want to hurt someone's feelings
- Don't want to appear incompetent
- Don't want to upset a client
- Want to appear keen, be positive
- Thinking this task might be a lead to what you really want to do
When should we say no?
Again, there's lots of reasons that we should say no:
When a client isn't a good fit
Ultimately, if the client isn't a good fit, you aren't going to work well together, it's a lose, lose situation. They're not going to be happy with your work and neither are you. It's important to work with clients who have the same value system, the same version of 'great' as you.
When the task is outside your skillset
If you can't do what a client is asking, tell them. They'll respect you more for your honesty than they will for you trying to do it, taking twice as long as someone who really does know how to do it, and maybe not even doing it very well! This will just damage the relationship.
To know that you do not know is the best. - Lao Tzu
When the piece of work doesn't help you meet your goals
Because, if you are saying yes to this, the chances are you are going to have to turn down something else. And the something else might be something that will help you meet your goals. Take it from the late Steve Jobs:
Focus is about saying no. - Steve Jobs
When you feel uncomfortable
If the task conflicts with your beliefs in some way, you should also bow out gracefully. For example if you are being asked to work on a campaign for something you don't believe in or write a reference for someone you don't fully endorse. Step away. Your work isn't going to be your best work and your reference isn't going to be truthful.
When someone asks for a discount
You should feel confident of your value and the value of what you do. If you don't, how can you expect your market to? There are many pieces of work on how to believe your value, one that might prove useful is Vanessa Ugatti's True Worth .
How should you say no?
Help solve the issue. Recommend alternatives, usually people who can say yes in this instance. Make sure you keep the equivalent of a little black book of contacts for these moments. You can build up great reciprocal business arrangements this way.
It's not all about the money though, it's a great feeling to be able to pass business on to others.