The Power of No
No shoes, no shirt, no service. Many of us are familiar with this notion that companies reserve the right to refuse service to some people. This always fascinated me. It’s the idea that commerce interactions involve mutual selection. Sometimes, as creative businesses, we forget that this applies to our brands as well.
It might seem a little harsh. And some of us might be thinking, “Why on earth would I want to turn away any business?!” It’s easy to feel like we need every single customer – but we don’t. We just need the right ones. This is coming from someone who still celebrates each order that comes my way and so loves getting the opportunity to create items for people.
But by carefully and honestly considering my opportunities, which means declining some requests, I allow myself more time and creative energy. With creative business, there’s a heart and soul to it all that we’ve got to consider. It’s not going to make anyone happy – the customer or myself- to take on a request that for whatever reason, is not a good match. For example, I have some requests asking for deep discounts or bargaining with my wedding work, and while I do offer a group set rate, detailed custom work is not in sync with someone looking for a ‘steal.’ In another situation, I’ve had a teensy number of inquiries issuing demands and services beyond what’s included in the custom package. In both of these instances, it’s not worth it to me to devalue my brand and take on these orders. Of course, communication can go a long way, clearing up misunderstandings and such, but sometimes, we must recognize it’s best to decline.
That’s why I’m encouraging you to give yourself to permission to say ‘no, thank you.’
Situations when you need to consider saying no:
● The request doesn’t jive with your brand. As a business owner, we’ve got to protect and constantly maintain our brand. It’s who we are, what we stand for, how we want to be seen. Sure, I *could* sew curtains, but that’s not what I do. So if asked, and no matter how much I want to please people, my brand is better off with me staying true to handbags and wedding accessories.
● There’s an aura of negativity. This can be tricky. There are difficult people out there and some of my most rewarding client interactions started out a little tough. But, you know, there are times when we’re presented with something so clouded in negativity or bad feelings, that going through the creative process together may not be the best idea. In this case, rather than stressing and worrying throughout it all, it might be better (for you both) to politely decline and focus your strengths somewhere else.
● You feel it in your gut. This is where your internal business compass comes along. It’s that nagging feeling where you sense something is off. A little voice is telling you that this order/request/client is just not a good idea. By all means, listen!
When I look back on my business journey, some of the most amazing turns developed from actually declining projects. It’s one of those things I wish I would’ve known early on, but now that I do, I really appreciate the power of “no.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts on turning down work or if you’ve had an occasion where saying no was a positive route.
Allisa is the dreamer and designer behind the Allisa Jacobs line of handbags and accessories. She delights in the process of making- sketch to finish and also has an ever-growing bridal collection. Allisa also shares her entrepreneurial insights in Rise and Shine, her ebook empowering others with their creative small businesses.