5 things to think about when wanting to say no

Saying no to work and opportunities is one of the hardest things to do when you run your own business. It can feel like you have to say yes to everything because you never know when the next ask is going to come around the corner.


But saying yes to everything that comes along can leave you exhausted, overpromising and not able to move your business in the direction you know you want it to go in.

Saying no takes courage and you need a belief that something better and more suited is just around the corner. Saying no is something I’ve struggled with a lot over the years!

I had a session with one of my clients last week, who is exhausted, on the verge of tears, struggling to keep her business and her relationships on an even keel. Everyone wants to work with her because she’s so good at what she does, but not all the opportunities are right for her business right now, and she simply can’t keep up.

We also need time to rest, to work on our business and to be with our loved ones. Sometimes something has to give!

So here are 5 things to consider when you’re approached with a new opportunity, to support you to work out if it’s right for you and your business right now.

1.      Does it get you in front of the right audience?

This goes back to age-old question. Who is your ideal customer? Ask yourself if this opportunity gets you in front of them? Will it add to your credibility with your ideal customer? Will it get you in front of people who could turn into potential customers?

If not and it’s taking you way off track it might not be the right opportunity. For example, if you work with executives and this opportunity is working with school children, as lovely as this might be, it’s not really the right audience to grow your business.

2.      Does it pay?

We all need money to live off, so a simple question is will I get paid for the work? If not, then it’s got to be an amazing opportunity, that gets you in front of the right audience and that you will absolutely love doing. Otherwise, it will have to be a no.

I love that charities ask people to do things for free, I’ve even been asked by the University and banks to do things for free. By holding onto my no I have been paid for the work I do.

Most of my employed career I worked in charities and social enterprises and got paid for the work I did. I don’t believe that just because you become a freelancer you instantly have to start working for free because it’s for a good cause. The people asking you to work for free are rarely ever themselves working for free.


3.      Do I like the person asking me?

Trust your intuition with this one. Working alongside people on a project can be pretty intense, so ask yourself would you enjoy working with this person.

You’ve created your business so you can choose, so make sure you exercise this right!

4.      Will I enjoy it?

Also a big one! We should have fun doing the things we do, it’s one of my rules of adulthood. Looking down the barrel of a new project, does it look like something you’re going to enjoy?

If it looks like it’s going to be a big heap of annoying, then you might want to think again about saying yes.

5.      Is it flowing?

This is a big one for me. If creating the initial meeting, telephone call, getting plans laid are beset with difficulty and pain, then I imagine it’s the universe saying this isn’t the right opportunity. You know the scenario I’m painting; everything just seems to go wrong and is stopping you from getting started! Listen to what’s happening.

6.      Does it take you in the right direction?

Where do you want your business to be in 1,2- or 5-years’ time? Is this new opportunity going to help you get there, or is it a distraction or even taking you backwards? Focus on where you want to be and look out for opportunities that help take you there.

Now hopefully you’ll be able to better assess whether you want to say yes or no to new opportunities. Not everything that comes your way is a good fit. I like to think of the above like those questions you used to get in Cosmo magazine as a teenager. Run through each question and if it comes out as a no, you’ll have more confidence in your decision to say no gracefully and move on.

Want to find out how I can support you to grow your business in the right direction?