Compucare Blog

SME Decision Makers & the Importance of “NO”

Clocks And Business Owner B

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” Steve Jobs

Every SME owner should know their core priorities. We must be able to maintain a strategic focus in order to arrive at our desired destination. Take the time to plan your mid and long-term projects. Break them down into short-term goals as well as daily to-do lists. When you know what’s on your plate – you are better equipped to judge the potential impact of adding extra slices of “opportunity” to it… If done consistently, over-committing (just like overeating) can cause high blood pressure, heart diseases, stress, frustration, etc.

The business world is a buffet of opportunities, but you don’t have to take them all just because they’re available.

Why not ask yourself the following questions prior to making a decision:  

  1. Is this opportunity in-line with my long-term vision? 
  1. Will this ‘yes’ delay or negatively impact my ongoing projects? 
  1. What’s the cost of this opportunity loss (can I afford to say “No”)? 
  1. Is this the right time – is it a “No” for now and a possible “Yes” later?

Having too much on your plate is not a sign of success. Over-committed businesses make plentiful mistakes (diminished service/product quality). The price of over-commitment can be high, and one should remember that costs aren’t always tangible (e.g. dedicated labour or refunds). What about those intangible costs? For instance: loss of brand reputation, customer dissatisfaction, dealing with complaints and issues that steal time which should be allocated to serving your clients and making money… Furthermore, remember that your time and resources are limited. If you say “Yes” to a so-so opportunity today you may have to say “No” to a Great Opportunity tomorrow.

Here are four things we believe an SME owner should say ‘No’ to: 

  1. Doing things your employees should be doing (pitching in all the time or micromanaging may seem harmless, but those minutes add up detracting from your bottom line;
  1. Clients who don’t respect your work and/or time e.g. consistently fail to pay (on time) or continue to ignore your professional advice and then blame you for the consequences;

Who are the people that make your organisation? Click here to read Business & People

  1. Taking on too many projects incl. collaborations, joint  ventures, ideas (yours and those of others)
  1. Usual everyday non-critical requests and demands placed on you by yourself or others.

Click here to get more tips on a Small Business Owner’s Work Life Balance

Besides the above mentioned, one must watch out for boredom and other emotional triggers (e.g. excitement stirred up by new ventures). A business owner’s schedule is bound to include some routine tasks which need to be completed over and over and over again… Timely, polite refusals are like healthy borders that protect your organisation from distractions. You cannot be everything to everyone – be selective and purposeful, so you can succeed and stay sane…

Stay true to your business’ vision and values. If you do, your organisation will be better positioned to flourish and your life (as well as work) will be more satisfying. “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” Jim Rohn

If you’re not accustomed to saying “No” it may feel strange to do so at first. When that happens, just read this or a similar article again and don’t worry – practice makes perfect! Saying “No” when necessary doesn’t mean you’re selfish or lazy even though some might disagree (especially those who want to hear ‘Yes’). Pay no mind to temporary feelings of guilt (it’s just a feeling) and remember that ‘No’ is a complete sentence

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Compucare is an IT Support Provider based in London. We have been delivering reliable, personal and innovative IT support & services to SMEs and Charities for over 25 years.