The art of the No



As a small business manager, “yes” seems to be the pre-loaded response to just about every question. The problem is, you have to say “no” from time to time in order to keep your efforts focused on what make sense for time and money.


Plus, if you want to keep your sanity intact, you’ll need to learn to say no. There are three major categories that you must consider before singing out the most beautiful “yes” anyone has ever heard.




Running a business requires top notch time management skills. When you are given an opportunity to deliver results, consider the time it’s going to take. If this is a customer that you depend on to make ends meet, then there isn’t much choice. If this is some small account that you really haven’t developed rapport with over the years or a new vendor that seems to be working an angle, you may want to consider passing on the opportunity.


To get away from these offers, simply be honest. Let them know that you can’t find the time to make things happen for them the way they are looking for. If you can get things done for them next week, month, or quarter, then you would be happy to help them out.




Obviously, you have to consider the bottom line. When someone is asking for a discount, free shipping, a reorder of some sort or anything that affects the profit margin, you should always start at no. The way to get out of these offers is to only consider “yes” when the situation truly benefits you.


Basically, if this is not a major customer that you depend on, or could be that guy that makes you the next prime minister, then you have to pass. There’s no way you can take a financial hit as a small business unless there is a huge return.




Most importantly, you have to learn your own limitations, as well as the limitations of your business. If you spread yourself too thin, you’ll break. That being said, you are already spread thin considering all the day-to-day tasks you oversee. There’s very little you can take on without giving up something else. Consider the longevity of your business before you take on any additional work.


The best way to address these concerns are to be honest. Let them know that right now you can’t possibly take on another project. Again, reiterate that this is something you would be able to do another time or under other circumstances, but it just can’t happen the way things are right now.


Keep these three things in mind when presented with every opportunity, and you’ll be able to make the right choice every time.


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