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On a personal level, I’ve always had a hard time saying “no”. If someone asks for help, I always want do so. Especially if I am able. It should come as no surprise that this trait carried over to my professional self…for a little while. It didn’t take long to learn that always saying “yes” can be damaging to the company. A few tough lessons that I have learned:

– Don’t take on a prospect that doesn’t fit my “target” market. Ideally, I would love to turn every prospect into a paying client. However, there was a situation where I found myself spending nights trying to figure out how I can mold a certain prospect into an ideal client. It felt like fitting a square peg into a round hole. Not only did I feel it, but the prospect felt it as well. We both ended up frustrated that working together didn’t flow smoothly. I lost the prospect and I lost money.

– Don’t promise services that VBO doesn’t offer. Ever hear the phrase “overpromise and under-deliver”. I learned that it’s better to be “great” at a few certain things rather than be “okay” at everything. More directly, it’s better to say “I don’t do that”, than to pretend I do.

– Don’t hire an employee that doesn’t fit the culture. Over ten years ago I worked for a company that hired an employee that didn’t fit within the culture of the company. Productivity and morality was at an all-time low. Similar to how the body feel when it has a cold and the immune system is fighting to kick the germs out.

Now I know it’s more beneficial to say no in a few important situations! NO when the client is the wrong target, NO to services VBO doesn’t provide, and NO to the employee that doesn’t fit in with VBO’s culture.

I’m sharing this story for a specific reason. I stumbled across an article once that told me it was okay to say no. Similar to what I’ve written here. Only when I read the article did I feel the sigh of relief that said, it’s okay to say no! I’m hoping all “you” business owners that are stuck in the “yes” rut read this and know it’s okay to just say “no”. If you’re not sure how, there are many resources out there that provide “how-tos” on saying no. I’ve personally found helpful guidelines by searching “saying no” on www.inc.com and www.fastcompany.com.

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