I’m a big proponent of saying yes. I’ve found that over the years, opening your mind/schedule/heart to new opportunities yields plentiful outcomes including new friends, contacts, and professional prospects.
But lately, I’ve become more comfortable with saying no – and I think it’s serving me equally well.
I’ve always been conditioned to want to please others – to be helpful where I can, and to not stir conflict or create problems. Understanding how to help others is an amazing attribute and can do wonders for your brand; but if its not helping you move forward, it may be time to reconsider.
Over the years, its taken me a bit of time to come to grips with the fact that I don’t always have to say “yes” when asked to do something. Maybe I’ll skip this networking or happy hour event tonight in lieu of grocery shopping, or get a bit of extra rest in. Perhaps I’ll gently decline a request to help another colleague because it means that I’ll be working through the weekend – with no extra assistance on my end.
Lately, I’ve also brought “no” over to my business. Here’s how, and why:
- NO to lowering rates. I have a standard and a non-profit rate, and I know when to use them. You probably do as well, or you understand that you may want to negotiate a retainer or trade in order to onboard a client that you want to work with. That’s different. But, if you are faced with a client telling you that your work isn’t worth what you are being paid (in their opinion, or in the marketplace), or that they can’t afford it, you don’t have to acquiesce. Think: does working with this client bring me more frustration than joy? Is what I’m being paid currently worth it? If the answer to those is “no” then your overall answer is as well. (P.S. just because someone thinks that your work isn’t worth the money, or that others can do it cheaper – it doesn’t make it true? Remember – there is a reason that they are outsourcing the work to you.) Extra reading: Why Slashing Your Prices Also Cuts Up Your Brand.
- NO to taking odd jobs. And I’m not talking about being a seasonal Nordstrom employee. As an entrepreneur, clients may throw you extra work to either fill their miscellaneous needs, or populate remaining hours in your retainer. If those “tasks” aren’t true to your brand, or rest in your deliverables or upcoming professional development interests, just say “no!” Here’s why: we have a duty to ourselves to define our own brand in ways that make us shine. Many times we’re spending long hours trying to make that happen. Don’t dilute those efforts. Think: do YOU have any interest in taking on this extra work? If your gut is telling you no, then the answer is no.
- NO to hanging on. I took a long contract with one of my first clients. I really liked working for them, but after awhile they decided to depart from the regular schedule. This was fine; things happen. However, they wanted me to stay on their systems and keep some equipment, plus monitor a separate email address in case any projects popped-up. I did this for far too long (almost ten months) – checking in every now and then to see if there were projects. There weren’t. Finally, I insisted that I return their computer, and deactivate my account. I told them I was more than happy to work with them in the future, which I was and am, but this extraneous “stuff” was a bit too much to keep on my plate for the possibility of hypothetical “work” down the line. It felt like a weight had been lifted off when I shipped it out.
What things have you said “no” to lately? Are you doing it with any level of success, or are you struggling to get the words out? Let me know!
Fun fact: I’m launching an online course this fall “The Savvy Soloist: Your Seven-Step Guide to Launching a Service-Based Consultancy” Are you interested in hearing more and joining the waiting list? If so, click here to receive updates!
Hi! I’m Elise – a communications and marketing professional who found herself in DC after college and brought her husband and dog along with her. I founded ep communications in 2014 after seven years of working for trade associations and think tanks.
Today I focus on building brands for businesses and people, using a savvy mix of content and influencer strategies. I’m passionate about entrepreneurship, making a mess in the kitchen and boxed wine.