A New Way of Thinking About NO

Lately, I’ve noticed that there are two camps emerging in the entrepreneurial world

Camp 1 is all about embracing new opportunities, stretching past your comfort zone, and bringing abundance into your life and work by saying YES.

Camp 2 is all about protecting your precious time, avoiding ill-fitting relationships, and bringing focus and expertise into your life and work by saying NO.

I can see the wisdom behind both Camps – boundaries are essential to avoiding overwhelm, and open-mindedness is key in business development. That said, I think there’s an even better way to approach opportunities that come our way.

Camp 3 is all about preserving your niche, maintaining your productivity, and exploring new avenues and experiences by taking that NO and transforming it into a YES.

Imagine it:

  • Working with a client who’s not only great for your portfolio, but also your bank account
  • Evening out the ebbs and flows of business, so droughts are a thing of the past
  • Embracing the control you have over your business, and not being limited by the work that happens to ‘come your way’

Now that’s worthy of a big fat YES.

So how do we transform a luke-warm NO, into an enthusiastic YES?

1)   The Why.

Why are you saying NO to an opportunity in the first place? You may need to ask yourself the question more than once to get down to the true reason. Some of these drivers will be perfectly good reasons to say no:

  • they’re looking for something you don’t know how to do
  • your ethics or morals don’t jive with theirs
  • they’re downright rude/disrespectful/crazy

Others are gonna be a bit iffy:

  • the payday is too small
  • you’re up to your eyeballs with work already

Those iffy ones are your golden candidates for transformation - turning this opportunity into something worth getting excited about.

2)   The What.

What changes are required? Take the answer to the why – and explore it. Use an example here with the creativity of ways that we can overcome this.

Example: The payday is too low

Fix #1: Ask for more money!

Fix #2: Scale down the project to match the budget


Example: You’re already up to your eyeballs in work

Fix #1: Schedule the project start-date in the future. Congrats on having a wait list!

Fix #2: Sub-contract or bring in help to expand your bandwidth

There are lots of reasons why we’re tempted to say NO to new projects and clients (and just as many ways to get ourselves to YES).

  • We don’t want to deal with time zones (split the difference or alternate)
  • They drive is too far for meetings (schedule outside of rush hour, or meet halfway)
  • We’re taking a vacation (book ‘em out a few weeks)

Voila. A NO, turned into a big fat YES. 

Enjoy your lemonade.