Written for EO by Jack Anzarouth, president of Digital Ink Marketing.
Many new founders and entrepreneurs feel they have to say “yes” to every opportunity that comes their way. But that small word “yes” comes with a big cost.
The appeal of “yes”
We get into the habit of saying “yes” to every professional opportunity presented to us for a number of reasons:
- Many of us have a natural desire to please
- We believe we are the only person who can do something right
- We tend to say “yes” automatically before fully considering the request
- We underestimate the time and resources a task will take
- We’re afraid of appearing lazy and unmotivated
When you agree to tackle everything offered to you, your business can end up with too many products to sell, too many commitments to fulfill, too many clients to handle or simply too much on your plate. More importantly, you may sacrifice quality, effectiveness and your reputation.
The solution is simple. Just say “no”—not just some of the time, but much of the time. I’ve personally had to refuse clients who would have easily doubled my workload to make sure that I had enough time and resources to take care of the clients I already have.
Here’s an exercise to try: Consider “no” your default answer and then convince yourself toward that “yes.” This checklist can help you assess the value of “yes.”
1. Calculate the cost of a “yes.”
When you say “yes” to something, it costs you time, money, resources and likely more. Sure, opening a new location or introducing a new product would bring in more revenue, but what is the cost of setting it up and getting it going? Will you give up time with your family? Will you wear down your emotional and physical health? Can you afford that cost right now?
Saying “no” now might be better until you’re more prepared to say “yes” to it.
2. Determine if it fits in with your long-term goals.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you probably have short- and long-term personal and business goals. Ask yourself if saying “yes” to something will serve those objectives. If it won’t help you reach your goals, then why say “yes” to it? In fact, it may actually end up distracting you from reaching them.
3. Think of what you may have to give up in the future.
Maybe you do have the time, money and resources to confidently say “yes.” Look at the long-term implications. If you say “yes” to something now, will it mean saying “no” to a better opportunity in the future?
Of course it’s impossible to know what opportunities will roll your way in the coming weeks or months. Even so, it’s a great reason to be 100% certain that you can live with your “yes.”
4. Remember that saying “no” is taking action.
Some of us say “yes” to things simply to feel active and engaged. Remind yourself that saying “no” is also a proactive move. Ignoring a request or opportunity is taking no action. Saying “no” is definitively closing the door on it.
When you learn to say “no” as an entrepreneur, you may find it opens up new and even better doors! Keep your time and resources free for opportunities that truly deserve a “yes.”
Jack Anzarouth is the founder and president of the digital creative agency Digital Ink Marketing.