As you are growing your business, developing the ability to say “no” more frequently is a great thing.
No to unnecessary meetings.
No to clients that you don’t fit with.
No to things that waste your time.
In many cases, though, the answer should be a bit more nuanced. It’s easy to say “no”, but you might want to think about it a bit more. A recent episode of the 2Bobs podcast dug into this a bit, with a rather funny (and sad?) story from Blair Enns about someone he knew that was trained to say “no”.
I was having a conversation with an agency principal a few years back, and I had worked with her firm a dozen years earlier. We were catching up, and she said, “Oh, you’d be so proud of me. I got an RFP from a Fortune 500 firm the other day and I said no.” I said, “Great. Then what? Then what did you say?” She said, “Nothing. They went away.” I went, “Oh, my God, what have I done?”
Blair famously doesn’t think you should respond to RFPs (Requests For Proposals), but that you should say “no” with some nuance. If it’s a good opportunity, you try to spin the conversation into something that works better for you. If you can, great! If not, then maybe walk away.
In the example above, they simply said “no” and were done. That’s taking the lazy way out, and it’s a good plan to run yourself out of business.
Say “no” often, but take a breath to make sure it’s the right thing to do.