Business Planning- Why your business needs you to say no

So many opportunities and limited resources to take them on? This is the plight of many business owners wishing to embrace opportunity and grow their potential.

The most difficult decision is knowing which opportunities to embrace and which to set aside. Not every opportunity will be right for your business. Equally, an opportunity may be right but the timing is all wrong.

Over-commitment, especially when taking on projects that don’t actually benefit the business can cause undue emotional and financial stress.

Give yourself time to weigh the cost and benefit before making any decision, and politely decline any opportunity that doesn’t align with your goals.

Get business advice to ensure your finances are right, your staff capability is up for the challenge and you have the skill-set to achieve the desired outcome.

Check your business plan

Your business plan is more than a record of the year’s goals and projections. It is a living document designed to help  guide your business in the direction you want it to go.

In order to stay focused on the success of your business, you need to keep your short and long term goals in mind.

If you don’t have a business plan (or it’s been some time since you wrote one), follow our  Small business template in Porters’ online resources to help clarify where you want to take your business and how you’ll get there.

“Running a business without a plan is like trying to reach a foreign destination without a map. It could take you the rest of your life trying to get there only to find much of your time you were heading in the wrong direction,” Porters CA director Simon Terry said.

“You can always reassess and change your destination but be sure to mark any changes on your map to success.”

Your plan should include a list of your priorities – business, financial and personal. With these priorities outlined, you can assess any new growth opportunity and how it aligns with your goals.

Make a thoughtful decision

If an opportunity presented to you does not help your business, your decision is an easy “NO”.

If you want to work with the person or business in the future, or there’s something you can ask in return that will benefit your company, a definite “maybe” is in order.

Before you say yes ask yourself the following questions:

  • How does agreeing to this benefit my business? How important is that benefit at this time or in the future?
  • Do I have the capacity to carry out this request at this time? How might other aspects of my business suffer if I prioritise this request?
  • What does my gut say? Will I feel burdened, owed a favour, or for any other reason resent saying yes to this request?

Scripts for saying no

If you’ve weighed the decision and need to turn someone down, these simple phrases can help you to say no gracefully.

  • Thank you for thinking of me but I can’t take on another project right now.
  • I’d like to help you but I have other commitments.
  • A healthy balance at work at home is my priority at the moment. I know this is a small request but I can’t be of service right now.
  • I’m sorry I can’t do what you’ve asked, but I can do “x” for you if it helps.
  • I’m unable to help you now, but perhaps another time.

Notice that specific reasons given for declining a request aren’t offered. You don’t need to give a list of excuses for saying no, which can sound unconvincing. Unfortunately when offered reasons for refusing a request, some people will add pressure by trying to challenge them.

Final thoughts

When you become skilled at saying no, you’ll not only avoid additional stress, you’ll have more time to spend doing meaningful work you enjoy, building a business you love.

One final thought: If the thought of saying no still fills you with dread, don’t think of it as saying no. Think of it as saying an enthusiastic yes—to you and the success of your business.




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