Most business owners are "yes" people. They say "yes" to new ideas, "yes" to client requests, "yes" to employee flexibility. These yes's are a natural consequence of a positive, can-do outlook.

But there are some serious dangers to the "yes" impulse. Each "yes" means a decision to say "no" to other things. It can put other people, other priorities and other circumstances ahead of your growth.

So as you are putting together your plans, consider posting a "say no" list. This list can act as an important reminder of what pitfalls and time drains you most need to avoid.

Here are a few top culprits:

  • Say no to unpaid work. Business building, relationship building, pro-bono... Have these projects really helped your business either directly or indirectly? If no, say no to requests for free consulting, free services, etc.
  • Say no to providing quick pricing quotes. Quick, off the cuff estimates can lock you into unprofitable projects or create project scope misunderstandings. Respond with pricing and a proposal in writing after you have enough information.
  • Say no to instantaneous email and social media responses. The more available you are, the more others will expect. Limit email and social media responses to set time windows during your work week.
  • Say no to stuff not on the plan. Once you decide on your best few initiatives for your business, say "no" or at least, "not now" to any other ideas that pop up.
  • Say no to "rush" deadlines. In an attempt to be responsive are you constantly scrambling to accommodate customer "emergencies"? If so, push back or at least charge for special priority.

What is on your "say no" list?

About the Author(s)

Jeanne Rossomme headshot

Jeanne uses her 20 years of marketing know-how to help small business owners reach their goals. Before becoming an entrepreneur, she held a variety of marketing positions with DuPont and General Electric. Jeanne regularly hosts online webinars and workshops in both English and Spanish.

President, RoadMap Marketing
Saying No