Secrets of small business success: the power of saying no

Saying yes to customers has its place in a small business, but saying no at the right time could benefit your profits, employees and even your customers.

White spray paint saying no

(Hat tip to Nathan Gibbs for the photo)

Saying no to a customer might be business philosophy sacrilege, but the practice of saying yes to every request could hurt your business.

When should I say no?

When a request from a customer would cause you to deviate from what you know is best for your employees, your business and your clients, it’s time to say no.

When it’s outside your niche

You know who your product is built for whether it is home workers, small businesses or a specific industry. If you try to change a product or service to suit a client outside your niche, you could fall short or waste time and money.

When it devalues your product

You went into business because you believe you make a good product. If a customer asks you to alter your product, you should seriously consider if changing what you do will compromise the quality of your product.

When the pay isn’t worth the resources

If a client wants a tall order in a short time, make sure the final payment will make up for the extra time you spend. If a client refuses to pay for the extra work, it’s ok to let them know you don’t have the resources to meet their need.

Why should I say no?

‘No’ can do more for the success of your business than you realize. If said at the right time, saying no can:

  • Increase profits when you turn down work with no gain in order to leave time for work that pays.
  • Improve employee happiness when you value employee’s time over a project with no value.
  • Maintain quality when you refuse to make a mediocre product to meet a request.
  • Build your reputation when you are able to help a customer get what they actually need.

If you know when to say no and what the motivation is, the next step is to figure out how to say no without burning any bridges.

How do I say no?

You can offer an alternative. Tell the customer how you or someone else can solve their problem a different way or what it would truly take for you to agree to the project.

If your product won’t work and can’t be changed for a certain customer, explain why and show respect for their resources as well. Your customer service will earn their recommendation to someone who does need what you offer.

Offer knowledgeable, respectful service and you’ve got the key to saying no. Remember, the motivation to say no is for the good of your business, your employees and your customers.

One comment on “Secrets of small business success: the power of saying no

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