When Should You Say “No” in Business? 6 Ways to Say “No” (and Win Back Your Time)

When Should You Say “No” in Business? 6 Ways to Say “No” (and Win Back Your Time)

Win back your time. Say “no” now.

Owning a business means wearing a lot of different hats. One minute you’re a marketer. The next you’re a salesperson. Then, suddenly, you’re support – troubleshooting problems with your customers.

At the same time, you probably spend a ton of your time dealing with administrative stuff. According to a study done by Vistaprint, nearly 72% of business owners said the thing that keeps them the busiest is administrative tasks.

7 in 10 said what kept them busiest was administrative tasks.

How do you fight this? How do you win back your time?

You need to say “no.”

Being so busy, it’s important to learn how to say “no.” Which tasks are huge time sucks? Which ones are fun or cool, but ultimately not that impactful? Which ones are just plain unproductive?

Ironically, when you learn to say “no” it actually makes it easier to say “yes.” The time you save by saying “no” lets you refocus on the work that matters to your business.

When to say “no” in business

1. You can automate the task

Saying no doesn’t always mean not doing something – sometimes it means doing it more efficiently.

Automation lets you streamline a lot of tasks that you’d otherwise have to do on your own. It takes slow, manual work (think manual administrative, sales, general business processes) and handles it for you.

Setting up automations is easy and might make sense for more tasks than you think (one of our customers, Heather, saved 10 hours a week with automations).

Here are some helpful articles on automating:

2. When scope of work gets too big

It’s important to show your customers value as quickly as possible. Scope creep kills your speed. And, unfortunately, it’s all too common for projects to balloon and become too much to handle.

You can always improve something once it exists. But, you won’t necessarily know if you’re improving on the right things until you get feedback from your customers.

Here’s some other reading on how to manage scope creep:

3. No business value

At the end of the day, you need revenue. To create revenue, you need to focus on the value you give to your customers.

Choosing what to work on (and what not to work on) is a prioritization challenge. You need to decide based on things like…

  • Reach: The number of people it will affect
  • Impact: How likely it is to move the needle
  • Effort: The person hours is will take to get done

Here’s some more content on staying focused and adding value:

How to say “no” to customers or clients

4. Stand your ground (especially in public)

A customer asks you to create a new product. What do you say?

Best case scenario? You’re clear and direct about your plans. You stay firm to your vision and express the “no” confidently and respectfully.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to waver and act unsure. By not being firm, you lose control and credibility. Or worse – if this is on a public forum like social media, people might see your indecision as a lack of confidence or vision.

You need to stay strong and confident when saying “no.” People can sense weakness and unfortunately may exploit it if you don’t stand your ground.

5. Back up your “no” with hard evidence

Sometimes the easiest way to say “no” is by backing up your decision with cold, hard facts.

If you owned a digital marketing agency and your client asked you to rebrand one of their existing product offerings, it’s in your best interest to take a step back and gather information.

Instead of diving in to work right away:

  1. Work with the client to define their goals (and look at the data that led to the decision)
  2. On your own, dig into the data, best practices, and the competitive landscape to understand the implications of a rebrand.

No one likes hearing “no.” But if you come with supportive facts, people are much more likely to understand your decision.

6. Show people the situation from your perspective

Your customers don’t always know everything you’re working on.

And you’re working on a lot, right?

Sometimes people ask for things without appreciating the effect it will have on your other work.

When you say “no,” give context. Show people your perspective. Let them see everything that you’re working on, so that they understand the consequences of saying “yes.”

Everyone is busy, and everyone feels busy. When people appreciate how busy you are, they’re more likely to accept hearing “no.”

Say “no” so you can say “yes”

What you say “no” to helps determine what you can say “yes” to. It helps you prioritize.

In work, in business, and even with your friends and family – there are powerful reasons to say “no” and say it well.

Still, saying no is hard. That’s why we created the first-ever “no” generator – so that you always have a ready-made “no” to get you through the day. Say “no” now.

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