Don’t get me wrong, saying “no” is an important skill. But that doesn’t mean that it’s ever fun.
Often, when your business starts rocking and rolling, it’s the direct result of saying “yes” to many things. Then you find yourself in with the choice between either curling up in the fetal position and sobbing or needing to say “no” more often.
Many of us opt for the fetal position.
But don’t let that be you.
In fact, my chief motive in avoiding “no” is that my reflex is still to say “yes” and I’d rather not tempt myself.
The good news is that you can actually put systems in place in your business to avoid saying that nasty two-letter word. These systems can even help you project a clear value statement, communicate a better understanding of your ideal client, and bring in more revenue.
And that means you can get more of the “yes” you really want.
1) Have a clear scope of work.
When you get to the point of needing to say “no,” you have a pretty good idea of the work you like to do and the work you were willing to tolerate on your growth path. You probably have a web presence (whether it’s a shop, a Work With Me page, or a Bio) that’s less-than-clear about the work you do.
Likely, you’re also getting a lot of work from referrals and that means that any “yes” you give to work you merely tolerate has an exponential effect of people wanting more of that work.
To avoid saying “no” to work outside of what you love, narrow the scope of your work. Get super clear about the kind of work that turns you or your team on and leave out mentions of the stuff you’ve tolerated in the past.
2) State your price.
Let’s face it, the need for “no” increases when people start haggling with you. And people will haggle when they don’t know what your starting price is to begin with.
You may have avoided putting a price on your work publicly in the past because you weren’t entirely sure what that price was (ahem, more haggling) but you know now. Or you should.
So set that price, or a price range, and clearly communicate it throughout your web presence.
3) Communicate your time frame.
You’re busy. You don’t have time to squeeze in a project, do you? But… maybe just this once. Or twice. Or three times.
The thing about “yes” is that it swells up into a tsunami of yes. Then, there you are, standing on the beach, watching the killer wave come toward you.
Of course, it would be better to be on higher ground from the get go. Be realistic about your time frames. You know how long the average project takes. You know how many projects you can handle at once. And you know how much of a buffer between now and a new project you prefer.
You can state all three of those things explicitly as a way to set clear expectations for prospects. “The average project takes approximately 6 weeks. We take 3 projects at a time. And new projects are schedule approximately 3 weeks out.”
Now, you’ve drastically reduced the likelihood that someone is even going to ask you to fit something in.
4) Know your policies and communicate them to your team.
When all else fails, let someone else say “no.” It isn’t a cop out, it’s team building!
In all seriousness, if you have a problem saying “no,” choose team members who don’t, tell them what works best for your business (your policies), and let them deliver the bad news. Likely, they’re less emotionally invested in the “no” than you are and can deliver it with respect, graciousness, and resolution.
Keep in mind that you often don’t know what your policies are until you’re faced with needing to say “no.” So keep a working document where you record what your always-going-to-be-no’s are and share that document with your team. While it might not keep you away from the initial “no,” it’ll be easier to avoid in the future.
Learning to say “no” is part of the growth of any business (or human, for that matter) but making changes in your marketing, policies, or team to avoid having to say “no” is worth the effort.
You’ll find that these changes often bring about a lot more “yes” from all the right people and projects. Click to tweet!