How to Take Control of Your Business by Turning Down New Opportunities
Your agency is finally growing its business, but some things feel out of control. You’re learning that entrepreneurship is a roller coaster ride. One moment you’re up, the next you’re down.
The only difference between the real world of business and the fantasy world of a theme park is that you have no idea when the next trough and peak of your journey are going to hit your business.
You win deals and lose them. You find the perfect person to hire, but they get ‘stolen’ by a competitor. You design the perfect marketing campaign, only to screw up your landing page so it doesn’t work.
Yep, running a business can leave you feeling out of control. But, just like that roller coaster ride, you can’t get off halfway through the journey. Entrepreneurship is all about overcoming obstacles.
In this article, we examine how to take control of your business by using a simple but highly effective technique: saying ‘no’.
What Happens When You Say Yes to Everything?
If you try to please everyone, it can lead to too many projects that you don’t have time to complete. This can make it difficult for your business to maintain a good reputation and grow.
When you say yes to everything, maybe your business is saying no to something. A project that is more lucrative, or that will enhance your portfolio, for example.
It is also important to know your personal limitations and only take on things that are within your sphere of expertise. If you try to do everything, then your business is more likely to fail. And if you are involved in every aspect of your business, you stop others from growing and contributing to their full potential.
Saying yes to every task can lead to the depletion of your time and energy. You may not be able to do other things or even maintain the quality of your work.
You know, it really is important for you to be able to say no – to customers and internally – so that you can take care of other aspects of your business. Remember, your real role is to lead your firm and its people in the collective goal of achieving the big picture. If you have no time to create and develop this, your business will not have the vision to inspire its people.
Why Saying No Is Necessary for Your Business Success
I want to take you back to a recent article, Profitable growth: How to maintain profitability during periods of growth, in which I introduced the U-curve.
As you travel through the U-curve, you’ll find that profits first soar, before dipping and hitting a plateau. Then they should soar – if you get your strategy right. Right at that point of dip and plateau, you’ll feel out of control. You’ll probably feel like getting off the roller coaster.
Here’s where the ability to say no really pays dividends – and can save you from business owner burnout, too.
The benefits of saying no in business include reducing stress, increasing productivity, increasing happiness, and job satisfaction, and improving innovation and creativity.
Saying no will eliminate unnecessary tasks from your diary, allowing you to focus on what is important to drive business growth. It frees up time to take on more profitable tasks and projects. Resources can be used more effectively, and skillsets matched to the work required. When you learn to say no and take back control – both as a business leader and as a business – you benefit from:
Shorter project timelines
Improved client relationships
An improving reputation
All these benefits will help you to raise prices without losing clients – and increase your profits even further.
How can a business overcome obstacles? Learn to say no as a leader
As a leader, it’s crucial that you say no. You should be operating in your ‘Zone of Genius’ – capitalizing on your innate, unlearned, natural abilities. This is where you get into the flow and become truly inspired.
For me, I used to spend most of my time creating spreadsheets. It used to give me a buzz. Not now. I’ve learned that my zone of genius is meeting with and speaking with owners of creative agencies. This is where I naturally excel (rather than working with Excel), and it feels a lot less like ‘work’. This helps to combat burnout.
How do you say no, so that you can spend more time in your zone of genius?
Identify what you want
Identify what you don’t want
Consider all the opportunities in front of you and decide on one
Separate yourself from the task
Remember that it’s your business, not theirs
This all applies to your business, too. As a business, you must learn to say no and to stay in your zone of genius. The first key – whether as the business owner or the business – is to know when to say no, by reference to these three situations:
It’s not the right time. There may be many reasons for this. For example, you may not have enough resources to complete a task, or the deadline for completing the task may be too tight.
You don’t have the expertise. Be careful about taking on tasks outside the scope of your expertise for a business – you could irrevocably damage your reputation. As a leader, it’s usually because someone else in your team has more experience in a certain area and so they should be doing that work instead.
It’s not aligned with your vision or values. It might be tempting to say yes to an opportunity that goes against your personal or business values and beliefs, but in these cases, it’s important to turn down the offer.
To say no more effectively as a business leader, learn to delegate
When you learn the art of delegation, you will be more effective at saying no. When you delegate effectively, you will be able to spend more time in your zone of genius. You should delegate:
Jobs that you do not understand or lack the skills for
Tasks that you can do with competency, but you may not enjoy
The learned tasks that you are highly skilled at doing, but that are not within your innate skillset
Any task that others can do more cost-effectively
Tasks that do not add value to you
Take control of your business by saying no
Some entrepreneurs (and their businesses) say yes to everything they are offered, without considering the risk of the project or whether it aligns with their company’s goals. When this happens, they end up with too many projects and not enough time to complete them all.
Saying no is what keeps any business alive. By saying no, businesses can differentiate themselves and create a niche where they can dominate the market with their service.
The real-world problems won’t go away. You’ll still be on a roller coaster. But you will be in control. You’ll be able to anticipate the peaks and troughs better, be more proactive in smoothing your journey and be working on the things that will move your business forward now it is growing.
We have a lot of powerful, persuasive tools at our disposal. Even some can generate the perfect response to any situation, just by tapping into your thoughts and feelings.
But there’s one tool we can’t do without: the power to say no. This is essential for your business success because you will need your energy and focus to do what you’re best at and grow.
Take our growth phase assessment to discover where you are on the growth curve, and gain valuable insight into the strategies needed to help your firm grow faster.