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No!

One of the most common challenges facing small business owners, is a lack of resources.  They know they could do so much better, if only they had more time, money, energy, clarity etc.

In most cases, their lack of resources is caused by an over-willingness to say “yes!”  The challenge here, is that by saying yes to too many people, you can find yourself spread too thinly.

  • By saying “yes” to too many opportunities, you make it extremely hard for yourself to succeed.  The farmer hunting 2 rabbits at the same time, will usually miss both of them.  Similarly, when you chase too many opportunities at the same time, you tend to miss out.
  • By saying “yes” to too many projects, you risk under resourcing all of them and missing the bigger prize.  For example, when Steve Jobs rejoined Apple in 1997, Apple were focusing on over 300 projects.  Within only 18 months of Jobs’ return, Apple were focusing on just TEN!  When asked why, Jobs explained that he wanted his A-Team working on everything Apple did.  It worked.  Beautifully.

If your business is under resourced right now, look for things you should be saying “no” to.  Get this right and you stand a great chance of being able to say “yes”, to all the things that matter most.

About Jim Connolly: I help small business owners grow their business, make more sales and boost their profits. To see how I can help you and your business, read this.

12 Comments

  1. Hi Jim,
    I definitely used to struggle saying no, but unfortunately I had to learn the hard way. Now I struggle to say yes. :)

    Love this quote:

    If your business is under resourced right now, look for things you should be saying “no” to. Get this right and you stand a great chance of being able to say “yes”, to all the things that matter most.

  2. I disagree. I think you can Yes to everyone…for a price. It’s a simple supply/demand equation for your time. If the price is right, you can always contract out or hire help.

    I think the key lesson here is knowing your market and keeping track of your supply/demand flow.

    • Hi JP. If you are only saying “yes!” to people paying you the right money, then you are not saying yes to everyone. Where’s the disagreement? You are selectively choosing the highest value use of your time. By saying “no” to the people where the price is “wrong” you make room for the people worth working with, no?

      • Thanks for the reply.

        Well stated Jim. I see all sales as negotiations and trying to find common ground. If the customer doesn’t like my price, they move on. However, this “no” is from them, not me. So a decision was made, but I don’t have to play the big bad wolf (unless pricing higher is me blowing the house down). This leaves the door open for future dialog instead of being the jerk who says “no”. B/c lets be honest, no one likes to hear no.

        On the flip, I have no problem firing certain customers (the ol’ 80/20 rule).

        Love the blog…just found you recently. Thanks.

  3. Another service provider who says yes to everyone. Oy.

  4. Hi Jim,

    This speaks volumes to me, I am currently working on 9 projects and I am struggling to keep up. I am having to say No for the short term.

    I think it’s somewhat simplistic to suggest that if the price is right, say yes and outsource – it’s fine if you’ve got established systems in place to manage the sub-contractors, and you have a network of quality subbies with a proven track record. If not then you could find yourself in a particularly sticky position.

    I would hazard a guess that the type if small business that’s referred to here is the type that needs this sort of common sense advice.

    Have a great weekend,
    Alex

  5. I like the Steve Jobs example. I guess even Google have recently closed down their labs. Not sure if they thought similarly! Focus only on the good and make it better until it becomes the best! – Great message!

  6. I learned my lessons with too much “yes” too. Until a point where I realized it’s not going anywhere.

    Now I only just deal with my own business. Any other opportunities that are presented doesn’t

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