This article was written by Frannie Barnes of ForWord Communication. A content strategist and writer, Frannie covers all the bases: from website copywriting and social media management to ghostwriting articles for thought leaders and disseminating them to gain publicity. ForWord is a member of Jottful Community.
It’s been said that saying “no” can sometimes be the best “yes.” Learning to set boundaries and understanding what you can and can’t take on is empowering, and often, a lesson that takes years to master.
And if you own a small business, the idea of saying “no” might seem counterintuitive. You want to grow your business, you want to make more money, you want to expand your horizons!
But more doesn’t always equal better.
Let’s dispel the notion that saying “no” is a bad thing. Sometimes it’s the best decision because it allows you to say “yes” to yourself and new opportunities.
Saying “no” can be difficult, though. Here are five ways you can prepare to say “no” — gracefully.
1. Identify your goals
When you started your business, you outlined objectives and priorities. Do you want to be a leader in your industry? An expert in your field? Or do you simply want to do what you love at a pace you feel comfortable with? (There is nothing wrong with the latter.) Not every request in business is worth pursuing. Once you understand your priorities, you can “know your no”, and say it with confidence.
2. Explain why
Follow the golden rule. When you can thoughtfully explain why you are saying no to a new opportunity, you hone your skill and set expectations for others. It could be that your current workload is full, or you feel your skill set doesn’t match the request. Whatever the reason, be honest.
3. Respect yourself
Taking on a project that doesn’t fulfill your business priorities or personal goals doesn’t suit either party. As tempting as it is to take on as many new opportunities that come your way, if they are not in line with your objectives, you will lose out. For example, accepting a low-ball offer takes up valuable time and space that could be better used for a project. Respect yourself in business, in order to earn the respect of others.
4. Rely on past experiences
Many business owners learn lessons the hard way. If you’ve taken jobs in the past that didn’t feel right, grow from them.
5. Reject FOMO (fear of missing out)
No one likes to miss out, but the truth is, when you say no, you will. It’s a tradeoff because when you say no to the wrong opportunity, you create a new opportunity to say yes to what will serve you, your business and your clients best.
Even when it’s the right decision, it’s uncomfortable to say no in business. But, with practice, patience, and a clear understanding of your boundaries, it is possible to do so without damaging relationships or your reputation.