When should you say No?



“No” is something we may be used to hearing as entrepreneurs, for every yes there are at least five No’s that come before it, but saying it is something that may be unusual. As you become more established and gain more experience people will start to notice you; both for your work and your value. This attention can be a blessing and a curse as your workload and commitments will increase. But just how much work or involvement is too much? When is it time to start saying No? I’ve always had a difficult time declining business offers and saying no to people in general, until one day I realized I was agreeing just to oblige others with no real benefit to myself or my business. Here are a few rules I’ve come up with for instances when it is alright to decline an offer or say No

  1. There’s no benefit to your business
    As an entrepreneur may people will try to sell you products, services, their time etc. to “help” you. It’s important to take a step back and examine each offer to determine whether or not it actually benefits your business. If there is no direct benefit then simply say No.
  1. It doesn’t make you money
    When you run a business it’s easy to get sidetracked and caught up in pointless meetings – basically meetings that have no profit or networking potential. They’re usually the kind of meeting where someone will email or call to “hear more about your business”. Be weary of these kinds of offers, if you don’t believe you can build a mutually beneficial business relationship then decline.
  1. Beyond your expertise
    Sometimes people ask you for your help or advice. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t make you an expert at everything business related so know the limits of knowledge. If something is beyond your expertise explain that it is beyond your scope and recommend someone else who may be of assistance.
  1. Detrimental to your brand
    Being aware of your brand and the message you want to convey is key when running your own business. Thus you must be conscious about how each business decision affects your brand. If allying yourself with a person, group or company compromises your brand or company image decline the meeting or offer.
  1. You’re spread too thin
    Time is something we never have enough of as entrepreneurs. If you find your commitments are taking away from your personal time with family and friends, it’s time to revaluate and prioritize. With all the volunteer and community involvement opportunities out there it’s hard to decline calls to help out, but remember when something is no longer enjoyable it’s time to quit. Volunteering can range from sitting on a board to even helping out at your local hospital. As a rule of thumb try to engage in two volunteer activities maximum, this way you’ll be able to focus more on them and give it your best.

Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world.  She can be reached via WebsiteTwitterFacebook or her Blog.

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