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The Importance of Saying ‘No’ in Business

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Today I listened to a webinar about how important it is to be able to say ‘no’ in your business dealings. It isn’t a word people like to use when dealing with clients. You want to say ‘yes’ because you want to make the sale, or whatever. Saying ‘no’ however, protects your focus, your time, your privacy, and other things. Read on for an example of when saying ‘no’ was definitely the better choice.

Back in the days when I did freelance web app development I had to meet with potential clients, and try to get them to hire me. I’m introverted (a friend has described me as an introvert with social skills) and I never enjoyed this part but I understand it was a necessary part of being in business.

I met with one potential client, who called me up out of the blue, and wanted to meet. I set up a meeting with him at the local coffee place down the street. When the time came, I packed up my notepad, pens, some business cards, and went off to meet my new prospect.

We met at the coffee shop and sat down. Normally, I’ll ask questions and then sit back and listen to the client’s answers, making lots of notes. This way I can find out what the client needs, determine if I can help them or not, see if we’re a good fit, and think about putting together a proposal.

The second we sat down, the guy started talking. He didn’t wait for me to ask him any questions, he just launched into a non-stop whirlwind of topics for the next 45 minutes. He spent a lot of time telling me that I was the highest recommended web developer in the area, that everyone told him how great I was. Yeah, I’m good, but at that time, almost no one in the community knew who I was, let alone gave out glowing recommendations on my behalf.

He went on about his project, but he was very vague about exactly what he wanted. Anytime I tried to interrupt with a question, maybe to clarify some point he’d made, or get more of an idea of what he was trying to communicate, he completely ignored me and just kept on talking. Let’s face it – the guy would not Shut Up!

He finally ran down and stopped talking and asked me what I thought. At the time, I needed clients. But all I could foresee with this guy was trouble, scope creep and arguments over what he wanted done and when. He would have sucked up all my time and kept me from doing work for better clients. I wanted to say ‘yes’ at the beginning of the meeting, but by the end it was a definite ‘no!’. I could have used the money from the job, but no amount of money would have made up for working with this guy.

I told him that I didn’t think I could help him and I could refer several other developers to him. I did work up a list of other developers I knew, and their phone numbers, and sent it to Mr. Speed Talker. I have no idea if he contacted any of them. I’m assuming not because none of them called me up and cursed me for referring the guy to them. Nor did any of them call me and thank me for sending him their way because they made tons of money off him. As far as I know the guy just went off to some other crazy scheme and dropped whatever idea he had.

So, an object lesson in saving yourself some headaches. Learn to say ‘no’ to more clients. At least the bad ones. They had a great quote from Warren Buffett during the webinar that I’ll close with:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is really successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” – Warren Buffet

If you liked this look into the way my mind works, why not buy me a chocolate chip cookie through my Ko-Fi page?

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