Why You Have to Get Good at Saying No

When I became a health coach and started building my practice a few years ago, I didn’t understand the magical power of the word “no”. I didn’t know that saying “no” could actually help my business. I didn’t realize that more “no’s” would lead to more “yes’s”.

“No” is a word you need to use often to set boundary within your business. It’s a word that helps you hone in on exactly what you want and exclude everything that you don’t want. It’s a really good idea to get comfortable with saying “no” early on in the small business game if  you want your business to flourish.

For me, when I was trying to build a client list, I would say yes to everyone who wanted to work with me. If a person was ready to give me money, I didn’t think for a moment to say no. Even just the idea of saying no was a terrifying notion. But by not saying no to certain (non-ideal) clients, I ended up working with clients who (1) didn’t want to pay full price or respect my payment guidelines, (2) asked for a refund half-way through my program, (3) had severe depression or other mental problems (which I don’t work with), (4) wouldn’t show up for sessions, (5) didn’t do the work involved, and (6) probably would never refer me to a friend.

At first, I thought that each of these non-ideal clients was helping my business by giving me money. Boy, was I wrong. They were actually just draining my energy, taking my focus away from my other great clients, and hurting the reputation of my business and my services.

When you are first starting out your business, it’s easy to feel pressure to work with anyone who’s willing to pay for your services or product, whether you feel like that client/customer is a good fit for your business or not. At the time, it usually feels like you desperately need the money, which can make it impossibly more difficult to say no.

But when you don’t say no, you end worse off than you were before. True, maybe you have a little more income, but your energy is shot, you’re constantly doubting yourself and your abilities, and you don’t have enough time to focus on finding ideal customers.

When I finally learned this lesson and starting saying “no” to clients I didn’t want to work with, my business started flourishing. It was almost surreal. Every time I said no to a potential client who wasn’t a good fit for my program, a perfect client would show up out of the blue. This has happened over and over again. The more I said “no”, the more I heard “yes”.

People appreciate boundaries and it’s your job to set them. Your business can’t (and shouldn’t) cater to everyone. Get really clear on who you want to work with and stick with your vision. In the end, I promise you that it will pay off and save you a lot of headache along the way.


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