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Oh Yes: The Power of Saying No in Business

It’s hard to say no in business. When you’re just starting out, you want to explore every opportunity coming your way. Try this idea, try that. Once you get the ball rolling, you then want to please your clients. Accommodate every request here, and then charge less there. Then when you’re already established and business propositions start pouring in, you take them all. After all, you got past that tough previous one, what’s to fear in this next one? It’s understandable to feel a strong urge to say yes to everything, but that doesn’t make it right or more appropriately, strategic. If you want to be a better, smarter entrepreneur, you have to learn how to say no.

Why “Yes” Can Hurt Your Business

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As much as they look noble and ideal, yes-sayers turn out to be unsuccessful entrepreneurs. Why? For one, they experience burnout easily. When you say yes to every opportunity, commit to a lot of projects, it’s no surprise that you’ll be overworked. You’ll be exhausted to the point of getting sick, as in your health deteriorating, or growing sick, as in you finding no pleasure on what was once an object of your happiness and fulfillment. At this state, you’re never at your best version to run a business. You can never make good decisions, let alone get up from your bed.

Another way saying yes to everything could be detrimental to your venture is it sidetracks you. It keeps you from achieving your business goals. Take, for example, the habit of pursuing so many business ideas. Let’s say, you already started running a food kiosk franchise then someone offered a partnership for a clothing boutique and acquisition of a well-known marketing agency. If you pursue these opportunities while you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to give your 100% on your kiosk and make it the success you originally wanted it to be. It will die a natural death or you may just kill it and abandon it altogether.

Now, one business down may hurt your reputation only a little, but how can you be sure that it won’t happen again in your next ventures? The thing about saying yes is that it can quickly become a habit. In the end, when you trace back, you find a string of businesses started, but never grown and finished to success. This kind of distraction also applies to your client relationships. When you say yes to every client’s request for discounted prices, you get derailed from your original goal of establishing your credibility in the industry you’re in. You probably retain that client for a long time, but you sold yourself short.

Saying Yes to Saying No

Although you know that saying no is necessary for business, that doesn’t make it easy to do. It’s such a harsh word, and it has a tinge of finality to it. Before you’re able to turn your yesses and nos, you should be able to change your perspective.

When you’re tempted to accept many opportunities or demands from the people around you, remind yourself that all of these can take time and resources away from the other things you’re supposed to be doing. Every business idea, completely different from what you’re doing now, keeps you from growing your current endeavor. Every difficult client deters you from enjoying a good relationship with another. Every new project leaves you little time for your kids and family.

Yes, it’s hard to say no. But its benefits can’t be contested. Learn to say no, so you can say yes to things that really matter.

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