Learning How To Say No In Business

October 7, 2020

Learning to say no has been a serious struggle for me. I am at my core a yes person. Let’s go back to the days of employee reviews… The only negative feedback I received was “hoarding tasks and taking on too much.” Sure, I always managed to get it done. But I ended up over-working…

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Learning to say no has been a serious struggle for me. I am at my core a yes person. Let’s go back to the days of employee reviews… The only negative feedback I received was “hoarding tasks and taking on too much.” Sure, I always managed to get it done. But I ended up over-working myself unnecessarily because I had teammates that were more than capable of helping me. My problem is that I don’t like to let anyone down.

I used to say yes to people all the time, even when I didn’t have the time. At the beginning of COVID-19, I seriously spent 6+ weeks helping out an old employer of mine. Times were tough for them and I was busier than I ever been. My own business was booming and I had been home-schooling my 3rd grader for months even before COVID hit. I was burning the candle at both ends and it had me burnt out, and I was left with nothing. Not only did I mentally exhaust myself, but I ended up being someone they couldn’t rely on. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being that person. It’s been several months since then and I’ve worked on personal growth a lot since then and here’s what I learned.

Saying No Is Okay

Believe me when I say this to you, saying No is okay. Maybe its a friend, co-worker, employer, or client you have to say no to? I promise they would much rather you tell them that you don’t have the capacity to help them, than you not being able to deliver the results they’re expecting. Sure, they might not give the best reaction off the bat. But they will respect you and appreciate you for being honest and allowing them to find someone who can handle their needs in the best way possible, the first time.

Systems Are Great

Imagine you had a system in place that showed you when you were at your capacity and booked out as a freelancer. I can’t say I haven’t had systems in place, but I can say I am sticking to them. Depending on the project I am  working on, I have certain timelines mapped out that show what I’m working on and for how much time, so I know if I can spend a few extra hours helping out a friend.

Not Saying No… Saying Not Right Now

When someone asks for help, it isn’t always a stop what you’re doing right now and help me put out this fire type of emergency. It could just be that they need help with your certain expertise and it can take a few days, or even a few months to handle. You just have to let them know that you don’t have the ability to help them out right now, but you can give them two time options that would work for you.

Want more tips on working smarter, not harder while working from home? Check out this article.


What if someone need help right away and you can’t help them out? Maybe it’s because of scheduling conflicts or maybe you don’t feel 100% confident with the scope of work? I’m sure you can think of a few people off the top of your head that might be able to help them with their specific project or problem. You can even work out a specific referral system with other people in your industry and they can return the favor. You never know if they like to outsource work as well. One thing we have to remember is there is plenty of work to go around and we don’t have to think of others as our “competition”. Instead we can learn from them and support them, and appreciate their hustle as much as we appreciate our own.

If you’re having a hard time saying no when it comes to business, remember… It’s all about the mindset and it’s not going to happen overnight. You have to value yourself and the time you put into your work and your business, and everyone else will do the same. Because I can promise you that if you don’t respect yourself and value your time, no one else will.

Has saying No helped you in your business? Or are you a yes person like I used to be? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below!

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I'm Tiffany, your #newbizestie

I was a single mom who came from your typical 60-80 hour/week world. I worked in customer service, as an executive assistant to CEO’s, to managing client relationships and handling a ton of marketing projects. I’ve had a freelance side-hustle for as long as I can remember, but I never thought I could do it full-time. I hit the imaginary ceiling in my career in 2017 and knew that I wanted more.

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