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February 12, 2018 By Raph DaCosta

The Importance of Business Owners Saying “No”

February 12, 2018

By Raph DaCosta

Read More from Raph DaCosta

February 12, 2018

The Importance of Business Owners Saying “No”

By Raph DaCosta
Social Media Specialist

As a small business owner or self-employed solopreneur, it’s often difficult to know where your work stops and your life begins. That’s exactly what’s so great about working for yourself? You meet wonderful people, do amazing things, and you can take time away from your computer whenever friends or family members need you…Right?

Except the reality isn’t always so straightforward. Instead of meeting people through your work, some days you find yourself chained to your desk trying to remember what human contact even feels like. Sometimes you stay up late at night to finish off reports or brainstorm new revenue streams. Time with friends and family is too often rescheduled at a moment’s notice if there’s work to do.

When this happens, work-life balance can seem like a pipe dream meant for other people. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it’s easy to combat the tendency to overwork with one simple skill: learning to say “no”.

Learning when to say “no”

Running a small business usually means building and maintaining a base of repeat clients. This presents a lot of situations where it feels almost impossible to say “no”. It’s easier than you might think, however, to be firm without damaging relationships.

Next time a client asks you to complete something extra on a rush turnaround, take a moment to breath and think carefully. Ask yourself some key questions: Is the request outside the scope of the fee you agreed? What is the benefit of the work being done right now rather than tomorrow or the day after? Does the client understand what their request means for you in practical terms, or are they just asking what’s possible?

Sometimes an email exchange to clarify why the work needs to be done urgently or gently highlighting that a request is beyond the scope of an agreement is all it takes to change the conversation. It doesn’t even have to feel like saying “no”, but you’ll feel so much better for it.

Assessing the value of opportunities

When you work for yourself, it’s all too easy to say “yes” to everything that comes your way in your eagerness to succeed and excel. But it’s important to assess the value of work opportunities. That value might be financial—it’s always nice to work on projects that pay well—but it might also be about your reputation or opening doors.

The key thing is to be realistic about whether the opportunities can move your career forward or whether it’s just more of the same, and perhaps even contributing to the stagnation of your business. Think about the three most important factors in the work you choose to pursue—this is your triangle. Whenever a new opportunity pops up, assess it against your triangle of priorities. If it meets at least two of the conditions, it’s likely to be a good opportunity. If it only meets one, think carefully about whether to do it.

Taking advantage of digital tools

Of course, achieving a good balance between keeping your clients happy and looking after your own wellbeing is an ongoing task. But through the time and effort you spend running a business, you’re on a constant journey of learning and discovery, so it’s important to consider how you can optimize your business processes and regular activities.

Simple, intuitive and affordable digital tools help you to come across as efficient, effective and professional—rather than feeling like the only way to please a client is by bending to their every whim. Maybe try join.me, for example! It takes the hassle out of connecting with clients or contacts across borders thanks to mobile apps, easy calendar integrations, screen-sharing capabilities, and great audio conferencing capabilities

Feeling in control of your work is an important form of empowerment, especially for self-employed people. It almost always outweighs the frenzy of having too much work and no idea how you’ll get it all done. Next time everything feels like it’s too much, take a step back and say “no”. Your clients—not to mention your friends and family—will respect you for it.

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