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Brand It, Build It Podcast

How to Say “No” Kindly and Professionally

Brand It, Build It Podcast

How to Say “No” Kindly and Professionally

How to Say “No” Kindly and Professionally

Saying “no” isn’t always easy — or comfortable. But it’s an essential part of being a successful small business owner. Saying no can actually be really powerful and helpful.

Today’s episode comes from one of our most-read blog posts at With Grace and Gold, “How to Say “No” Kindly and Professionally.” We’re excited to share our simple 3-step process for saying “no” so you can experience clarity within your business and serve your clients well.

How to Say No Kindly and Professionally - The Preset Market - Best Mobile Lightroom Presets for Creative Small Business Owners and Best Business Podcast

As small business owners, we make lots of decisions, consciously and subconsciously, big and small, minute by minute. We make decisions about how to best use our workday, how to serve our clients, and how to run our businesses as a whole. As the owners of our small businesses, saying “yes” feels natural and easy. So, first, is it possible that you’re saying “yes” too often? Here are a few ways to know:

  1. You find yourself providing services you don’t actually offer. For example, you’re a wedding stationery designer, who offers only wedding stationery design services — but sometimes friends, family, or prospective clients ask you to do brand design. You say yes, because, as a professional graphic designer, you’re able to design a brand. But, eventually, you find yourself busy providing services you don’t actually offer through your business, or more importantly, services you don’t want to offer through your business.
  2. You find yourself feeling overwhelmed with work. Maybe you’re afraid to miss out on potential revenue, so you say yes to more work than you’re capable of doing. Having work to do, is, of course, a huge blessing — and having so much work to do can be a reflection of your success. But it could also be a sign you’ve said yes to too many clients.
  3. You feel like you don’t have time to get back to the parts of your business you do love. When you say yes to the wrong things, in business, you’re saying no to the right things. Once more — when you say yes to the wrong things in business, you’re saying no to the right things. If you’ve been saying yes to the projects or tasks that bring you further and further from the business you love running, it’s definitely time to start saying ‘no’ so you can get back to running the business you’d envisioned.

If you can relate to any of these 3 symptoms, you are not alone. Every small business owner experiences seasons of overwhelm, and learning to say ‘no’ can be a big help in moving toward a season of more clarity.

  1. If you consider yourself a people pleaser, first, know that saying “no” can be helpful. Pleasing people is about doing the right thing for them — helping them to be in a better place than they were when they first reached out to you. For example, if a prospective client asks you for a service you don’t currently offer — being open and honest, and saying no, is beneficial to your prospective client. If you were to say yes to a project you didn’t feel excited about, or you didn’t feel qualified to do — your client wouldn’t be helped in the way they could have if they worked with the right business. So, know that saying no doesn’t have to be a bad thing — and that it can actually be your way of serving your prospective client well. 
  2. When you say no, provide a reason why. As an example, when we say “no” to an opportunity, we begin with “At this time, our offerings include…” or “At this time, we are focusing wholeheartedly on…” That way, we’re sharing the reason why we’re unable to serve someone in the way they’ve asked. Knowing why can provide peace of mind, and it can also help to clarify what you do offer. 
  3. Lastly, provide an alternative. For example, “At this time, our offerings include only wedding stationery design. However, we’re excited to share our recommended list of brand designers who can create a brand for you.” When you provide alternatives, your decision to say no is rooted in your desire to serve and uplift the person you’re saying no to. 

We are so hopeful today’s episode encourages you to say “yes” to the right things, and “no” to the wrong things for your business. When your “yeses” and “nos” are rooted in service, you can make a meaningful difference.

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