For Your Business to Grow, Just Say NO! June 11, 2014
The advice that businesses should explore every opportunity, take every meeting, answer every call, and in general pursue as many avenues as possible is shared frequently. After all, these people argue, “What’s the worst that can happen?”
The worst that can happen is you commit to dozens of activities, and none of them actually winds up helping you improve your business, while you ignore the things that will help you grow!
Exposing yourself to serendipity in business is important, and it’s true that you can never know where your next big deal will come from for sure, but in order for this concept to work you need to focus your activity so that any lucky breaks happen in an area that is beneficial for your company. After all, a change connection with a top alcohol brand won’t do anything for your business if you publish children’s books.
You need to focus your exposure to serendipity into key areas so that it increases the odds of a fortuitous encounter that actually helps your company grow. Plus saying “yes” to every offer puts you in a reactive mode, where other people determine the agenda and can get you to do what they want because they know you always agree. Here are four reasons you should think about saying “no!” more often:
1) Don’t lose sight of your key objectives. You need to make sure that you are working towards your company’s strategic goals regularly. If you have extra time for non-critical activities and experiments after that, then by all means pursue the ones that present the best opportunity. However, you have to make sure you balance getting the important, but sometimes less enjoyable, work accomplished first before you spend too much time on the less-critical, exploratory activities.
For example, if you’re trying to increase sales volumes, then meeting with people who have large audiences and prominent brands makes sense. If you want to expand your company’s offerings by forging a strategic partnership, then doing things to help you connect with other complementary businesses is also a good use of your time. But if you’re trying to increase profits from your existing clients, spending time writing Facebook posts is probably not going to be as effective as reaching out to them directly and trying to up-sell them additional products or services.
If you encounter an opportunity that won’t help you meet your key objectives, and you haven’t made progress on them recently, just say “no!” until you’ve made sure you’ve put in enough effort in the high-priority tasks first.
2) Be true to your roots. A common and unfortunate reason many once-successful businesses decline is because they forget what made them succeed in the first place. It sounds strange that a company would simply throw away the things that have made them successful, but when you realize as a company grows it can get greedy or develop delusions of grandeur you’ll better understand how this can happen.
For example, instead of happily operating a successful mid-size company in a mature industry, if the C-suite of a company decides that they want to keep trying to expand they will often do so by attempting to reach a wider customer base. To accomplish this, they will probably change their products or services to appeal to a broader audience, which is frequently the start of their downfall.
If these businesses don’t attract a new audience with their modified offering, and the changes they make affect what caused their company to be successful with their existing audience in the first place, they will lose their current customer base and won’t be able to replace it with the new, larger market they were seeking. This leaves them with no customers and rapidly declining profits.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to continue growing your business, but if it’s going to come at the expense of losing your existing audience — or even the risk of it — just say “no!”
3) Avoid the trap of mass appeal. A company that doesn’t target a specific enough audience usually thinks that they can take one product or service and make it appeal to everyone, however this is simply not possible. Think about it this way, would a teenage male want to use the same product as a senior-citizen female? Regardless of what the product is, as soon as the teen finds out it’s popular with senior citizens, they won’t use it, and the reverse is true as well! Trying to appeal to everyone will ultimately cause you to appeal to no one.
You need to make sure that your business has a clear, specific, and realistically narrow audience for its products and services. Otherwise, you will chase every different type of prospect and wind up closing none of them because you don’t appeal to their specific worldview and circumstances. Only when your product or service matches an audience segment’s individual needs will you be able to generate reliably successful sales.
Feel free to say yes to meetings and opportunities that will allow you to expand your company’s profile with your target audiences. But just say “no!” to anything that focuses on people mostly outside your target, because chasing the dream of a single, universal product just doesn’t work.
4) Don’t worry about customers. Bad customers and clients are a problem for B2B and B2C businesses alike. It costs your company money to service them, whether that’s in labor hours if you are a consultant or tech support time if you are a software company. The more maintenance a customer segment or client is, the less profitable they become for your company. This means you should say “no!” to any who demonstrate that they are problematic.
If you encounter difficult clients or customer segments, kindly let them know that you’d be happy to refer them to a competitor that can provide them with a similar offering to yours, but that you won’t be able to keep working with them if they continue to behave the way they are. This way you can focus your time on over-delivering for your most lucrative customers and clients, which will ensure they maintain their loyalty to your brand.
Not only does getting rid of problematic business partners help your company substantially grow its average profits per customer, but it will help your staff enjoy their work more as well. Nothing is worse than dealing with obnoxious clients or customers, and it can drain the energy for even the most enthusiastic employee. Working with difficult business partners is an emotional poison that will kill creativity, productivity, drive, and ultimately success for your business. Get rid of them and your company will almost certainly make up that revenue and then some when you land a more cooperative partner.
There’s no shame in saying no to opportunities to help keep your business focused on its goals. Share a time where you said “yes,” but wish you said “no,” with us in the comments!0