As a business owner, and a human being, learning to say no has been one of the most beneficial and freeing things I've learned to become comfortable with doing this year.
When I first started my business, it was important to say yes to things. Yes to sponsoring and serving food at both large and small events we were asked to attend, yes to any possible marketing opportunities, yes to customer's special requests. But, as we got bigger and bigger, doing these things became less helpful and more of a burden that took up precious time, money, and resources. People attending these things did not care about who was serving them food, they just wanted to eat. We weren't gaining any new customers from doing them which was pretty much the entire point.
The beginning of 2018 was when I really felt the weight of saying yes all the time. At the beginning of the year we are always asked to multiple sporting events, competitions, and charity events. This year, we said yes to them all. We also experienced some serious growth and were focusing on expanding. I knew at this time that going to these events was no longer beneficial yet I'd already agreed and paid my fees. I was stuck. I seriously regretted it. After that event season, I knew how I was going to handle the next, but I wasn't particularly looking forward to it. Saying no is a lot harder than saying yes.
Why is it so hard for us to say no? We're afraid we're going to offend someone, or hurt their feelings, piss them off, lose their business, or miss out on some big opportunity. We also know how crappy it can feel when people tell us no. Let me tell you though, once you get the hang of it, it feels so so good!
With the 2019 event season just around the corner, I've had a lot of practice saying no over the last few months. The first time it was difficult for me. We were invited to an event we had attended the previous year. We had to pay to sponsor it, GIVE AWAY food, and it gave us no additional business. No, thanks. I was nervous to respond to tell them we were not interested this year. I thought is would be received wrong or I would seem rude, but once I did, I felt a huge relief and the response was a simple, "No problem, thanks for letting us know!" Over the next couple months, more invitations came, more no's went out. Because of this, my 2019 is clear for me to schedule things that WILL generate revenue, that I WILL enjoy doing.
It takes some practice but once you're comfortable with it, saying no becomes easy and oh-so freeing. As soon as you decide to say no (pretty much, if it's not a HELL YES, then it's a HELL NO) let the person know. For one, it will get it off your chest and two, it will allow them to find someone else if they need to. You don't have to elaborate on why you're saying no, a simple "No, thank you. I'm not insterested at this time but thanks for considering of me" will work. I've found sending this usually elicits a quick response of appreciation for getting back to them. Doing this for my business has even made it easier to say no to things in my personal life I don't want to do.
If you struggle with saying no, I hope this helps! If you've had any no-saying breakthrough experiences feel free to share in the comments!
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!