When we first start out in a business, it’s tempting, and can be recommended, to say as many yesses as you can. Unless your business is following a recipe such as a franchise manual, your new venture is in unknown territory. So you give everything a try.
Yes to every invitation – networking meeting, online groups of all stripes, radio shows that require you to pay, training programs, Tupperware parties.
Keep going like that for long though, and you quickly wind up with the entrepreneurial equivalent of a clutter-filled home. It’s supposed to be your pride and joy, but instead it exhausts you.
From the looks on the faces of people when the idea of saying no to things is brought up, I’ve come to understand that this is like saying, ‘Today, you will learn to walk without gravity.” Incomprehensible and hard to act upon, without at least a little help.
Good news! Help is here, in the form of 52 suggested ‘nos’ you can try on, along with a few general suggestions to ease the application. Mostly, if you treat these as fodder for brainstorming, you’ll be in good shape. You may find the no that fits for you lives a few degrees to one side or the other.
Nos You Can Say in the Client Care or Customer Service Department
• A 100% refund policy without exceptions.
• Being the lowest priced option.
• Answering customer service emails outside of business hours, or, within a too-ambitious time frame.
• Accepting verbal or emotional abuse.
• Accepting business from every client who has the money to buy.
• Late or delinquent payments beyond a certain time frame.
• Requests for additional service beyond the contract without a new arrangement.
• Requests for additional discounts.
• Unappreciative clients whose energy depletes resources.
• Tardiness or missed appointments.
• Telephone client service. (11)
Nos You Can Say in the Team Building or Management and Leadership Department
As soon as we start thinking about client care, it’s an easy jump to look at team building. They are, after all, the precious people who help you take care of clients, and are another constituent of your business, a kind of inner circle client. We can say some very powerful nos in this category, to:
• Consistent last-minute rush requests that put everyone on edge.
• Unclear direction that set team members up for failure.
• A culture that reveres overwork.
• Any single person hogging credit.
• Repeated missed deadlines or underperformance.
• A lack of regular performance reviews.
• Not knowing what your team cares about other than you.
• Refusing to have a team, clinging to the self-importance, or fear inherent in lone-wolf syndrome.
• Overbuilding a team and incurring unnecessary overhead.
• A lack of documentation and standard operating procedures.
• Abdicating responsibility. Team building is a leadership activity and requires ongoing personal development. (11)
Nos You Can Say in the Finance and Administration Department
The bigger your business, the greater the effect nos in the Finance and Administration department can have. But starting to say nos when you’re in the building stages will set you up to grow more effortlessly. Could you try saying no today, to:
• Late, or no, invoicing.
• Chronic undercharging.
• Unhealthy discounting.
• Shoebox bookkeeping.
• Last minute tax planning.
• Lack of collections follow through, or a lot of outstanding accounts receivable.
• Late payment of bills.
• All attention paid to revenue, not enough to expenses.
• Ignorance about what’s profitable.
• Not paying yourself.
• No proper corporate structure, back accounts, credit cards.
• Cushion or rainy day fund.
Nos You Can Say in Sales and Marketing
Now we’re really cooking with gas, since this department is classicaly the one that drags the other ones around, with its sense of superiority about keeping all the lights on and payroll met. It’s true, without this part of our businesses running well, things run amok quickly. Which is why you might consider saying no to:
• A very high-touch sales approach that in the end, simply costs too much.
• A too-leveraged sales approach using online tools that doesn’t earn enough.
• A too-aggressive sales team that brings on board clients very likely to default or refund.
• Crafting marketing campaigns with high costs while the offering is still in the proving stages.
• Marketing language that is indistinguishable from that of other businesses.
• Being responsible for the sales and marketing department on your own, without some outside help.
• Rushing to create a sales funnel without testing the market.
• Dropping income streams because you’re bored.
• Offering only high-priced, or only low-priced items.
• Selling too many things at once.
• Seeking out more and more new customers, versus nurturing existing ones, and cultivating repeat business.
• Trying a large number of marketing tactics at once. Better to do fewer more thoroughly.
• Not measuring results from your campaigns and starting from scratch each season.
• Only doing marketing when you need to.
• Not upgrading or evolving your offerings over time.
• Overselling and setting expectations too high.
• Not documenting the sales conversation in a follow up system.
• A lack of paperwork – such as an appropriate contract – when it comes to making a sale official.
While there are a nearly infinite number of nos it’s possible to say, these 52 provide a start. You could adopt and implement one powerful business no each week for a year, if you were to be conscientious. And that’s without addressing the personal nos you could be saying as a leader and CEO, or team member.
Know Your No
For more money to arrive, greater influence and meaning, as well as recognition and freedom in your life, we must invest the time to know our nos, and act on them.
You can pick:
• The easiest no to say, and start building a no-saying habit.
• A challenging but mission-critical no. You’ll do better if you can seek out support from a coach or colleague if you’re going this route.
• One from each category and go for it just like any other to do list.
And if you’re looking for sample language, or even examples of conversations in each category, you’ll find lots of them in We Need to Talk: Your Guide to Challenging Business Conversations, out on Amazon.com NOW.
What nos here appeal to you first or most? What additions can you think of?