When to say no

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You’ve got a product, something you’re making, producing or crafting, it’s going okay. You’re selling, people are interested in what you’re doing and you get offered opportunities.

You’re flattered by the offers, and feel inclined to accept them all, because it’s amazing that people like your work and you find it hard to say no.

But the opportunities you’re offered are starting to take over. You spend time away from creating and making in order to full fill your part of the arrangement, and actually not all of them prove to be worth it – on a monetary scale or in networking terms. Some of them are starting to feel like a waste of time and resources, to be frank.


So, you have a dilemma.

You really don’t want to say no to an opportunity that could prove to be beneficial to your business, on the other hand you’re getting busy and really don’t have the capacity to say yes to everything. So, how do you chose which ones to say no to?

Ask yourself this

Does this opportunity align with what you believe in and where you see your business going?

I hope you do have a plan for where you see your business in say 1-3 years time. It’s not always certain you’ll end up there, but having a goal helps you steer in a direction, and makes the decision process easier – because you know where you want to go.

Will the customers you’re trying to reach, be there?

Is this an event that might be slightly outside your own industry, but the people who will come is the ones you’re trying to reach? For example if you’re asked to be featured at a food festival and you’re a ceramicist making tableware – then it might be a good fit, where you’ll reach some potential customers that you might not otherwise get hold of.

Is this something you’re proud to be associated with?

Do you feel excited by the thought of participating, or do you feel like this is something you should do to make someone else happy?

Would you regret it if you didn’t do it?

Maybe you can’t quite tick any of the above boxes, but there’s still something in you that feels like saying yes. Maybe this particular opportunity will spark lights in other areas of your business, feed your creativity, be fun on a social level or something  you cant measure in contacts or on the bottom line.


You can’t know the outcome in advance

You never know in advance how that particular event is going to be. Even the ones you have done before can turn out to be completely different the second, third or tenth time.

If you’re just starting out it might be necessary to try out more opportunities than if you’re established.


The reverse method

Okay, forget about everything you just read – no, just kidding. But there’s another way to figure out what to say no to, and that’s knowing what you want to say yes to. Choose from the perspective of what lights you up, a bit like eating all the nice things on your plate first. Then what’s left when you calendar if full, are the things you can’t do.


How to say no

In almost all the cases I’ve had to say no to something, it hasn’t been figuring out what to say no to, but how to say it in a graceful manner. And the best way to do that is always with respect and honesty.

Always thank them for the opportunity.

If you’re booked at that time or have other big events leading up to it – say so. There’s nothing worse than someone trying to do everything and not showing up properly.

If you don’t feel it’s a good fit – say that. It could be a conflict in industry, style, clientèle, standard etc. For example I used to get asked a lot to participate in these jewellery yearbooks – but as I didn’t make jewellery but silver tableware, that was a bad fit.

Let them know whether you would or wouldn’t be interested in participating at another time should the opportunity arise again.


Now I want to know if you’ve had any good experiences with saying no, and if you have any tips for saying no in a compassionate and respectful way?

Share your thoughts in the comments!