Is business going really well? Are you so busy that you couldn’t possibly take on another client? This means sometimes having to say “no”. Do you have trouble saying “no”?
Here are 5 strategies to help you manage the overwhelm and learn ways to say “no”:
1. Set your business hours and stick with them. Once you set a precedence by replying to a client at 11:00 pm when your office closes at 5:00 pm, don’t be surprised to receive more requests after hours that you will be expected to respond to and this won’t always be possible. Most people are reasonable and won’t expect you to drop everything and respond right away but once you set a precedence it’s hard to go back.
2. Sometimes saying “no” may simply mean unsubscribing from mailing lists you signed up for. Don’t worry about offending a fellow business owner who’s a friend and puts out an awesome weekly ezine. She’s probably inundated with email too and will understand. Many of us are suffering from overwhelm and this is one way to reduce the amount of information coming at you. Pick only one or two mentors in your industry to follow and unsubscribe from the rest.
3. Start a waiting list as opposed to squeezing in ‘just one more’ client. As a business owner, you still need to address your own sales and marketing functions, attend networking events and grow your business. If you neglect these tasks and only attend to clients’ needs, your own business will fall apart.
4. Another way to say “no” is by saying “not now”. In my business I ask for 4 days turnaround time. I plan my upcoming week on Friday and my schedule for the week is set with little flexibility for last minute requests. To drop everything for an urgent request can negatively affect another client. Let your client know when you can handle their request, if not right away. You’re demonstrating that you value all your clients equally and that you wouldn’t push their work aside for another client either.
5. Have a backup plan. If a client has an urgent request and can’t wait your standard waiting period, refer the client to an associate who you trust will give your client the same expertise and high level of service as you would. Your client gets the work done and your associate is happy for the referral.
Saying “no” does not have to be considered a negative response. It is about setting realistic boundaries and expectations. Clients, family and friends can trust that you will respond honestly and will know that when you commit to something you will follow through. Saying “yes” when you should be saying “no” is setting yourself up for failure. To be successful, make it a rule to never promise what you can’t deliver.