In The News

Tue 2 Oct 2018

Why We Need to Get Good at Saying “No”


International Business
The inability to say "No" in business has the potential to lead to over-commitment and poor client outcomes

Running a small business is not an easy feat… I know because I’m the owner of a growing small business!  It often involves juggling lots of balls all at once – trying to keep many different projects afloat.  Sometimes we can find ourselves being over-committed, stressed and not really enjoying the ride.  And, of course, the repercussions are – amongst other things – that the people we want to impress the most (our clients) end up being on the receiving end of a pretty ordinary experience.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that for many of us, the biggest single issue we face as women in business is that we try to please everyone – we take on far too much and end up paying the price for it.

As women, a lot of us are natural nurturers and people-pleasers in our roles as mums, wives, daughters, sisters, and friends.  We see a need, and often automatically jump in and do whatever needs to be done – often without thinking very hard about the cost to us.

It’s not something new – in fact, I see it happening all the time!

The inability to say “no” has the potential to lead to over-commitment

I spend a lot of time working with women to help them set up their own small (Virtual Assistant) businesses.  Overwhelmingly, the reason many of these women want to get started down the freelancing road is  to achieve freedom, choice, and (hopefully) some serious work-life balance.

Sounds fabulous doesn’t it?!

However, many new (and existing) business owners find that their initial enthusiasm and deep desire to succeed can lead to a situation where they are trying to do everything and anything, and end up feeling unable to turn anyone down, putting them at risk of finding themselves in the unenviable position of taking on too much – way too much actually.

When this occurs, what we find is that we stop being effective and proactive, and start becoming totally reactive.

Anybody who has been there will know it’s not a nice situation to be in.  Ultimately, we risk being resentful, unhappy and even anxious – not a great recipe for success is it, and certainly not what we signed up for in the first place.

It can be really difficult to say “no” – I really do get it.

However, by over-committing yourself, you are at risk of serious business sabotage.  I’d wager a bet that if you’re guilty of doing this, you will most probably already have a knot in your stomach whilst reading this.

Stop for a moment and take a really honest look at your current business workload.  If the total work required is really not possible in the time-frames given, you have a couple of options:

  • You could consider delegating and/or outsourcing the areas of your business that don’t necessarily require your personal input. Remember that your business (no matter how large or small) includes administrative tasks such as bookkeeping, customer service, marketing, PR, sales.  As a business grows, it’s often just too much for one person – and there are people out there (Virtual Assistants) who can potentially do the task in half the time that you do it, leaving you free to focus on what is important and / or what you love doing – i.e. the things that bring in the dollars
  • Or, you can simply re-negotiate with your client (depending on what your relationship is like with your client)

Take a moment to breathe.  Remember the reason why you’re here – your vision, your dreams, why you started down this path in the first place.

Don’t lose sight of the big picture!

The reality is that we only have one life… and we are in business so we can live it!


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