Why saying NO can benefit your business

December 16, 2016

Business burnout can strike even the most confident, organised professional if they’re not careful about how much work they take on.

The stresses of December can exacerbate problems that would be less significant during other months. Amidst hectic holiday concerns, financial considerations and tying up loose ends, you might find yourself needing to say ‘no’ to new commitments to avoid business burnout.

Burnout can take many different forms. For some, it could lead to missing critical details related to projects or falling short on new ones. For others, it could mean becoming overwhelmed and stressed to the point that you can no longer function efficiently. It could also be both.

Learning to say ‘no’ in the right situations can be your saving grace when the going gets tough. Take a hard look at the upsides and downsides before shooting yourself in the foot with more work than you can handle.


Burning out Is Detrimental in the Long Run

It’s a little too easy to convince ourselves that one extra project won’t be our undoing. But when you’re already thinking of a new client or project as a potential negative tipping point, it’s a sign that you need to make a tough decision.

Consider things beyond the bottom financial line when deciding whether to commit to a client or project. It’s better to turn them down and lose potential income, then to say ‘yes’ and realise too late that you can’t deliver.

A failure to meet agreed upon expectations can ruin your business’ reputation.


Your Health and Sanity Are Important

Falling short with a new client and damaging your reputation can be detrimental to your business, but they aren’t the only downsides to burnout.

Remember that business, including your own, are supported by the resiliency of human beings. Your health, stress levels, confidence and morale matter. How long can you keep running on empty before you become emotionally stymied or succumb to unhealthy habits?

Your business depends on your personal well-being. The vigour you bring to each new day can have a small and significant impact on how work proceeds. Do yourself a favour and choose not to be overwhelmed.


The Power of ‘No’ Should Not Be Underestimated

So how do you say ‘no’ when you run your own business?

Write yourself a letter.

It may sound crazy, but it’s a helpful exercise. Step away from whatever you’re currently working on and open an empty document. Write down the pros and cons, don’t worry about grammar and then force yourself to look at the information as rationally and unemotionally as possible.

Sometimes, seeing your tangled thoughts in black and white can clarify what once seemed impossible.

You are capable of saying ‘no’ to a tempting business offer. Keep your eye on the long-term gains you can achieve by avoiding burnout. Listen to an inspiring song, read a motivational quote, call your mentor or closest business associate for support and then do what has to be done.

Try not to think of the ‘no’ as a closed door and be honest about why you’ve made that decision. You might find that a respectful ‘no’ can leave the door open for future unexpected possibilities.


Trust yourself to make the hard choices when a firm ‘no’ can prevent you from sacrificing long-term growth for short-term profit. If you know there’s too much on your plate, then consider the loss of a new profit source as a gain in other areas of your professional life.

Get it over with, rip off the bandage and sleep soundly for the rest of December with confidence to take the new year by storm.

FCA Blog