Saying “No” as a Small Business Owner


Photo (CC), on Flickr

Over the holiday break, I enjoyed spending time with my 18-month old grandson. He is at that stage where the word “no” is a significant part of his vocabulary. He says it often and sometimes loudly.

As we grow older we tend to say “no” less often. I don’t know if it is because of our upbringing or if we are just trying to keep everyone pleased, but saying no feels like something we just shouldn’t do. It seems to be a word to be saved for only the most dire emergencies.

As a business owner, you need to break that mold. Saying no should be one of the management tools you carry and use on a regular basis. This was recently pointed out in an article shared by Becky McCray on her blog, Small Biz Survival. This blog post was building on an earlier work by Stephanie Ward of Firefly Coaching.

Stephanie several reasons why we just can’t say no: we want to be liked; we feel guilty; or we don’t know how to say it in a way that makes it an acceptable response. So instead we say yes and quickly become angry or feel overwhelmed.

There are other times we need to say no as a business owner. One such time may be when you are being asked over and over for donations. Suzette Barta of Oklahoma has put together an excellent piece on “How to Survive When You’re Being Hundred-Dollared to Death” (look for CR-961).

Here are more helpful articles:

No – It is one of the shortest words we have. Yet it carries so much weight. We fear that using it will shut doors forever.

The reality is it can be used effectively and without any harm to your business. As we move into a new year, make it part of your business management strategy.

Sitting Around the Coffee Table

Coffee shop conversationWhere do you ask questions about managing your business? Where do you toss out new ideas to see if they might work? Where are your mentors?

I suspect that one common place might be a local venue where you and other business owners meet on a regular basis. This may be at training or educational programming sessions held in your town or when you attend various trade meetings.

It also occurs when at meetings that may have an entirely different purpose (think city government, park board, social group, or civic organization).  Business questions or a business trends are common discussions that occur during breaks or in pre or post meeting conversations.

As a business owner you tend to trust these conversations and the information offered as it comes from someone you know AND that someone has “been there and done that.” Plus you can validate it by talking to others and further check it out online and/or meeting with educators and consultants.

Connecting with other business owners is a great tool. Yet for some, because of location or time constraints, taking advantage of such opportunities is much harder.

Power of Business was developed specifically to help business owners more easily engage with other business owners. An example was the most recent Friday 15 chat with John Marquis of Ogallala Bay Rum. Not only though can you engage with your colleagues but you are also supported by professional educators from the national Cooperative Extension system.

Starting and growing your business means finding and using resources to your advantage. Power of Business is one such resource. Everything you find on the site is focused on being easy to understand and implement. The goal is that most things can be done while you enjoy a quick break from your other daily tasks.

Looking for answers to questions. Want to get feedback on some new ideas. Need a mentor. Then take 2 steps: 1) Check us out; and 2) Join in the conversation.

Asking for Advice

Starting and operating a small business is hard. There are so many things that have to be done and, it seems, so little time to do them. Plus, at least in the early years, you don’t have the funds available to hire help.

Adding to the obstacles you face is the fact that many of the tasks that need doing are things you probably have little or no experience in. Most business owners start a business because of a passion for creating or building something or providing what they see as a needed service. That passion though does not provide a background in handling the variety of other tasks that need doing.

What happens in many cases is the business owner does the best he or she can do. Research through the Internet and reading is done. Talking to others is also a common practice.

In this video, one of five done during Small Business Week here at Power of Business, George Johnson of George Paul’s Vinegar encourages small business owners to do more of the latter, asking for advice. He indicates some of the resources he used and notes that those and others can be accessed, often for free. While specific state resources vary, across the country you can find Cooperative Extension (in each state and through eXtension), the Small Business Administration and its related agencies, Small Business Development Centers and SCORE.

So listen to George’s advice and then get in contact with agencies that can help you achieve success.