How Saying ‘No’ Can Help You Grow

By not chasing after every opportunity, you give yourself time to succeed at the few important things that drive your business.

When you really look for it, there is opportunity all around you. It’s easy to fall into the trap of inviting too much opportunity into your life, only to find out that it sucks up your time, leaving you feeling drained and unfocused.

When you say “yes” to too many things, you overcommit yourself. Rather than being laser focused, you find your attention is split into smaller, less important tasks that keep you busy but not very productive. Multitasking is “the art of doing many things poorly.”

If you find yourself too busy to think, take a step back and look at the big picture. Saying “no” can feel contrary to your growth objectives. It’s easier to say “no” to things that cost you money than it is to say “no” to things that pay your bills. Saying “no” to a client or a sale is a lot harder than saying “no” to a vendor or asset purchase. But when the client or sale is not aligned with your company’s mission or purpose, this is precisely the time to say “no” so that you can say “yes” to something more relevant.

Saying “no” is not a weakness. Saying “no” is a key strength to building your business. Knowing what to say “no” to means that you have clearly identified your objectives, mission, and purpose. By not chasing after every opportunity, you give yourself time to succeed at the few important things that drive your business.

When “No” Means “Yes”

It was Alexander Graham Bell who said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” To avoid wasting time regretting what you say “no” to, spend more time defining what your priorities are and clearly identifying your business goals. Anything that doesn’t fit should be rejected so that you remain focused and can attract even more of what fuels your growth.

We once had a client who was incredibly rude and obnoxious to one of our employees. He was shocked when I “fired” him as a client. I said “no” to his business at a time when it represented a good percentage of our revenue. That action had two important benefits that I could not have foreseen at the time: (1) It emboldened my team to double their efforts to build our business and (2) It avoided attracting similarly hostile clients into our company (“birds of a feather flock together”).

Saying “no” to a hostile client meant that I was saying “yes” to a more positive and inviting work environment for our team. It also meant I was saying “yes” to current and future clients our team wanted to work hard for to ensure their success. One committed “no” meant several new opportunities we could say “yes” to. And that has made all the difference.

What are you willing to say “no” to? By answering this question, you can better define your fastest path to sustainable growth. Knowing what your company is not is sometimes more important than defining what your company is all about.

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