Let’s Talk Business for February 9, 2024

Conventional wisdom suggests that being a successful entrepreneur means being open to every opportunity and making yourself available to everyone who needs you. In reality, being a “yes” machine is really just a recipe for being unfocused, spread too thin and burned out. While saying yes to things that are truly worth your time is good for business, saying no is important, too.

For a lot of small business owners – who pride themselves on being people who get things done – saying no is hard. It goes against everything they stand for. But, it really is essential if you’re going to focus on what’s truly important when it comes to building and growing a business.

“When you take on too many or the wrong things, you waste time, energy, and money and distract yourself from what’s really important,” according to author Bruce Tulgan in this excellent (worth the read) Harvard Business Review article. In it, he suggests you make a list of things to which you automatically say no. This list might include things that are not allowed or simply not feasible for you or your business.

Perhaps you decide to say no to anything that doesn’t directly impact growth. Or to things you know are outside of your core business. Or maybe you automatically say no to things you just don’t like to do.

Knowing why it’s hard for you to say no will help you develop a strategy to make it more comfortable.

If you find it difficult to say no — to employees, customers, opportunities or volunteer requests — having a pre-planned strategy can be helpful. That might include having evidence ready to back up your reasoning. Another good way to say no, without really having to say no is to change the timing. You might say that you’d be willing to consider the request, but at another time.

It’s also important to understand why you have such a hard time saying no. Maybe it’s because you’re a people pleaser or maybe it’s because you hate to miss an opportunity. Knowing why it’s hard for you will help you develop a strategy to make it more comfortable.

And if you need a little inspiration for why saying no is essential, remember that Steve Jobs said, “focusing is about saying no.” And that’s because when you say no to one request you are making yourself available to say yes to another. That should make it a little easier.

To Do This Week: Say “no” to something!

The Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce offers many resources to help you start, run, and grow your business–including our annual Leadership Emporia Academy, monthly Group Lunches, Ribbon Cuttings, Business After Hours events, Legislative Dialogues, and more. Stop by the Trusler Business Center at 719 Commercial St., call 620-342-1600, or visit our website at www.emporiakschamber.org to learn more.

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“Let’s Talk Business” is a weekly column of the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce and Visit Emporia. The mission of the Chamber is to be proactive in creating an environment for business and community success, guided by the vision that positive attitudes promote positive actions. Contact us at 620-342-1600 or chamber@emporiakschamber.org and visit our website at www.emporiakschamber.org.