Small Business Strategies: Learn How To Say ‘No’


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

Whether you’re a new business owner or have been in business for years, it’s probably in your nature to want to please everyone. I’ve written about how saying no can save your business in depth in previous posts. Sometimes customers may come to you for a related product or service that you don’t offer and that is not what you do best. And being the person you are, you want to help them. And at the end of the day, you need revenue to pay the bills, too.

But sometimes when you’re approached in this type of circumstance that voice in the back of your head tells you to run! Or at least I hope you have that voice. Because when you say yes to this job, it will be a nightmare or it won’t help you achieve your long-term goal. It’s circumstances like this that delay your progress and your growth.  While you may be taking one step forward in the short-term when you say yes, in the long-term you’re taking two steps back.

Here’s a tip for making it easier to turn down business that isn’t right for you and stay on course.

Make a list of what you ‘can’t live with’, even if you’re down to your last dollar. In your business that may be:

  • Giving clients their images on cd
  • Discounting your consulting fees
  • Opening your retail business on Sundays
  • Selling a line of product, regardless of how popular, that doesn’t meet your quality standards
  • Offering free shipping
  • Donating to charities that aren’t local
  • Hosting group parties
  • Offering deeply discounted services or products to friends
  • Selling a new service that the long-term implications yet aren’t known
  • Do speculative work without pay

The ‘why’ you can’t or won’t do these things isn’t important right now. Just get your ‘can’t live withs’ on paper.

It’s an important start for making progress on your long-term goals and to grow your business. The list is that line you draw in the sand that you’re not willing to cross. It helps keep you focused.

And remember, your can’t live with list isn’t set in stone. You can change it if you need to. But think twice before you do!

I’m curious, what’s on your can’t live with list?

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