Some other classics include not having enough cash flow to support us as our businesses launch; being overly optimistic in predicting revenues; failing to set up a systemic customer acquisition strategy; doing our bookkeeping in a shoebox; not taking the time to set up an adequate customer relationship management database; failing to delegate work that can be done by others…
I think I’ve done all of these at one time or another, and I’m sure you’ve encountered some I haven’t mentioned. There are lots more.
Let’s Get Back to How To Say No
A challenge for almost every entrepreneur is making time for what is important by learning how to say no. Just saying no is a big challenge for many people, yet that ability to set boundaries can be critical to business success. If too much of the time you could be spending on marketing, selling, producing amazing content or products, or servicing your customers is eaten up by others, there will be no time left for you – or for your business.
We know we need to set boundaries. We know healthy boundaries are important – critical to time management and productivity. And yet, in our businesses, too much time is frittered away by failing to say no. Marie Forleo, founder of the Rich Happy and Hot live events, has a policy I like for how she decides to get involved in a project. It’s one clear rule that delineates, for her, how to say no: Quite simply, if it isn’t a “Hell, yes!”, she says no.
Why Is Saying No so Difficult for Us?
We are raised to be cooperative and accommodating. Our earliest childhood experiences taught us that being assertive and saying “no!”, particularly in a loud voice, often resulted in emotional or even physical pain. We’ve been taught that refusing commitment is bad… but of course, that’s not true in all cases. Every commitment is a choice, and making it excludes other choices. Saying no can be a “career limiting move” in some organizations. In our businesses, with our ongoing time challenges, making the wrong choices about what to commit to can, without exaggeration, kill our businesses.
How Do You Learn to Say No?
I’ve taken out one and a half minutes of video from a PBS presentation on The Gifts of Imperfection: Living with Courage, Compassion and Connection that answers this challenge clearly and completely. All you really need to know is “choose discomfort over resentment”.
Watch Brené Brown explain what that means.
Brené Brown is a researcher into shame, vulnerability and empathy. I first encountered her on TED talks, where I watched her first video on vulnerability, and her second on shame. I considered them well worth my time, and I recommend you check them out. In fact, they are among the very few videos I have watched, where I would not have preferred a transcript, since I read very quickly. That’s the power of authenticity and vulnerability.
So next time you’re tempted to give up precious time that could be used to build your business, choose discomfort over resentment and just say no.
Learning How To Say No Can Save Your Life
When you’re coping with stress, dealing with jobs that can be frustrating, trying to find time for family members and yourself in a busy life, overwhelm happens quickly. Learning how to say no is a powerful stress management strategy. If you watched the short video above, I think you’ll get a sense of the stress relief, or even feelings of elation, that saying no firmly and unequivocally can bring.
Image credit for “just say no”: Photos8.org
If you have an tips or strategies you use on how to say no, please share them in the comments!
About the author
I'm a big fan of entrepreneurship. Most of my learning, teaching and business is focused on effectively creating "freedom businesses" that allow you to focus on your strengths, and bring what you're really good at to the world - profitably. My clients are looking for more of the right customers - and I show them how to make that happen. I help them develop their web presence through their website, SEO, social media and other marketing tactics.