Saying “No” to New Opportunities Can Be Good for Your Business

We tend to think of a ‘no’ as a big red stop sign in the middle of the street. But has it ever occurred to you that sometimes saying ‘no’ is what’s going to push you forward?

This hit home personally this week when I found myself turning down a lucrative contract to write the training course for another Powersports O.E.M. Being recognized as a national leader on the subject is a thrill and a great boost to an ego that frankly, has been beat up a bit lately. But ego isn’t what should make decisions. You have to use a bit of Business Acumen to know if you are going the right way as Kevin Cope writes about in his book, I had to weigh some options — in this case “No” was the right response.

When you’re in business, you’re going to find a plethora of opportunities coming your way. That can become a problem because the temptation is to say ‘yes’ to everything – after all, who knows when another such opportunity is going to come your way? But more often than not, by saying ‘yes’ early, you might be tying up resources that you could put to better use elsewhere. Your ‘yes’ is hurting your business.

If NO is the answer, answer quickly.

How can you tell where you should say no?

1. How will this use your time? There are only so many hours in a day, so when you’re looking at an opportunity, you need to decide if this is something that will be worth your time. To figure that out, ask yourself what this opportunity will do for you. Will it grow your business somehow? Does it fill a current need? Will it enhance a skill set? Is it something enjoyable? All of these factors are important to take into consideration.

2. What is the required investment regarding other resources? What will this cost you in human resources? Is there a physical cost in materials or training that will be required? Is this a fair return on that expense?

3. Are there any red flags? For example, Is the client known for being difficult to work for and do they seem clear in what they want? Are you already overcommitted and worrying about whether you have the time for more things?

Does it fit the schedule?

4. How do you feel about it? Is this opportunity even realistic? Is this something that doesn’t even interest you?

5. Will other clients suffer if you take on this work? If you’re already committed to other projects, and there’s not much slack is this going to be the straw that brakes the camel’s back? Will you be shortchanging loyal customers for the sake of new ones?

6. Have you already done as much as you can in this direction? Be honest here. It might be this isn’t an opportunity at all, but just more of what you’ve been doing all along.

7. Will this impact YOU in a negative way? If you’re already overworked, overtired, and stressed out, even something that’s a true opportunity might be bad for you. Remember, that if your health suffers, so will that of your business.

8. Have you talked this out with your mentors? It might be a different perspective is all you need to determine when saying ‘no’ might be the better option.

Opportunities come along all the time. In the long run, knowing when to say ‘no’ will benefit your business more than saying ‘yes’ to everything could ever do. Focus on what’s important, and don’t let yourself be distracted by the things that aren’t going to do you any good at all.

Regarding my personal decision described above, I called someone on my personal “board of directors” to run through the shortlist. He asked important questions. How is your family life? How is your fiscal life? How is your faith life? What about saying YES to this opportunity improves any of those three? The result was “no”, and that is OK.

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