Being an entrepreneur, especially one just starting up, can be a risky venture. You often don’t know where the next pay cheque will come from or when a client might move on. That’s why many business owners say yes to everything – they want to be busy and they want to get paid.
But there comes a time when “no” is the way to go. In fact, learning how to say no may actually help your business grow. Nasos Makriyiannis, managing director of Montreal-based corporate-strategy advisory firm KOMAND Consulting, explains when to say no to a potential client.
Work Is Outside Of Your Mandate
Don’t take work that doesn’t line up with your company’s mandate. If your business caters to the healthcare industry, don’t take on work for a financial operation. Why not? Because you may not have the skills and insights needed to work in that industry, and acquiring them can, in turn, take up a lot of time and energy. If someone asks Makriyiannis for branding and marketing advice, he’ll politely turn them away. “We’re not experts in those areas,” he says.
You’re Too Busy
Don’t take on work if you’re too swamped. It might seem obvious, but many business owners still say yes, even if they’re stretched to their limits. If you accept a project but can’t deliver properly, then you may lose that client completely. “You won’t have repeat business if you don’t deliver what’s expected,” he says. While you could still lose the client if you say no, if you’re open and up front about your reasons, and they like what you do, then they’ll come back. Just be honest.
The more work you do, the easier it will be to know if a project is worth taking on… or declining. Recently, Makriyiannis had to turn down a lucrative contract because he saw potential personal issues arising between the partners who owned the business. He knew that whatever he was going to do probably wouldn’t be good enough for one of the partners, which could lead to conflict and, ultimately, a difficult position for Makriyiannis.
Makriyiannis told the clients that before he could anything with them, they would have to work things out between themselves, and actually recommended they hire someone to help them sort out their problems. It wasn’t an easy conversation to have, but the clients appreciated his honesty – and one of the owners has since called him again, asking for advice on another issue.
While it can be hard to say no, it’s important to get that word into your vocabulary. If you take on something you can’t handle or isn’t right for the company, the work will suffer. And so will your business.
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