We are all presented with opportunities everyday that can grow or make our businesses more efficient. The best opportunities are those which make the most sense, have a good payback on investment, are interesting, and/or offer new directions to move the business forward. It is easy to say yes when an ideal opportunity presents itself. The harder job is figuring out when to say no or pass for the time being. We don't have the time and resources to say yes to absolutely everything. Saying no can be for a variety of reasons that are not always negative. Here are my top 4 reasons for saying no to a new opportunity:
- Not in your area of focus - Losing focus on what matters most can divert critical resources away from what you need to deliver on now. Saying no because it is not a priority today does not mean you will say no forever - just possibly for now. Make sure you have the necessary skills and bandwidth to handle before proceeding.
- Cost/investment - Every business, no matter how large and successful still has some resource constraints whether it be financial or human capital. Think twice about the costs associated with saying yes and whether or not that is the best use of your resources at this time.
- Changes the direction of your business - Often, you can make money saying yes but it will take your business in a different direction than you can or want to handle (different customers, different infrastructure, different employee skill set, etc.).
- Changes your brand/customer perception of the business - For example, adopting a new promotional strategy, price approach, or new partnership can yield greater revenue and growth but could negatively change how your customers' perceive your business for the long term.
Most business spend little time thinking about what to say no to and lots of time and energy saying yes. Ask any successful entrepreneur if they could change something and I would bet the big things they would change (do over in retrospect) is say no to more things they said yes to initially. Missing out an opportunity to drive the business forward can be a huge mistake but saying yes to something that ultimately sinks the business will come at a much steeper cost in the end.