There's a stat floating around that states 96% of business fail in ten years. If it's true that only 4 out of 100 businesses succeed, then what holds the 96 business owners back from reaching their potential?
Warren Buffet may have some answers. In one of my favorite quotes, he states, "The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything."
I happen to find this to be true. But what exactly are business owners saying no to that makes them so successful? I've studied this theory and have discovered 12 consistences.
Successful business owners are saying no to:
1. Unnecessary Meetings
How many of the meetings you attend actually could have happened via email or over the phone (or perhaps didn't need to happen at all?) Taking meetings is a major time vampire for a lot of business owners and more often than not, meetings simply are just a waste of time. In addition, business owners are often saying yes to meetings before understanding why they're being called into a meeting in the first place. Think of the people who want to explore possible collaborations or brainstorm ideas of working together. Before agreeing to any meetings, be sure you understand why people want to meet in the first place. If a meeting is called, suggest meeting over a quick phone call instead. If you know the meeting's purpose, you can quickly make a decision as to if it will be worthwhile or not, letting the other person know the truth about your position so as not to waste anyone's time, including your own. Bottom line, value your time, especially when it comes to meetings and set boundaries.
I'm all about not reinventing the wheel and if it's possible not to, you shouldn't. But there's a difference between not reinventing the wheel and taking shortcuts. Business owners who think they can take a shortcut but achieve the same results are setting themselves up for failure. Nothing great was achieved via shortcuts. What's too good to be true, often is. Successful business owners know that the key to great work is to see it through entirely, and to they test, seek feedback, and focus on quality. Neither of those three things can be effectively produced through a shortcut.
Successful people know the unique tactics to keep themselves focused. The strategies for focusing are different for each person, based on their work style. And they've done their homework to know exactly what drives their focus and what crumbles it, following this discovery up with tactics that stick. For example, removing all pop-up notifications from their phone and computer or setting an out-of-office alert on their email. They do what needs to be done to ensure they've created a distraction-free space to zone in when it's needed. And they're also keen on how to communicate this to the people around them so that their team supports them when it matters most.
4. Putting themselves last on the priority list
When you thrive, your business thrives. It's as simple as that. Successful business owners know that if they aren't well-rested, energized, and healthy, there's no possible way for them to think creatively, be innovative, or handle their workload efficiently. They don't think twice about putting self-care first on their list and they know that by doing so, they are creating a better experience not only for themselves but for the people around them.
5. Always responding immediately to emails
Once you set precedence, it will always be expected. If you are always on, always available, and always responsive, then people will always depend on you to keep pace at that rate. You'll burn yourself out. Successful business owners understand boundaries and how to set them appropriately so that they can still over-deliver but not feel compromised of their own time and energy. They can still put the client first by being realistic about deadlines and their communication style to ensure both parties have a great experience.
6. Discounting their services or products
Pricing is one of the most challenging components of running a business. And pricing your own time and expertise can be even more difficult. All too often, business owners are under-valuing their time and expertise by not charging enough or constantly discounting their services. Don't get me wrong, I think every business owner struggles with this and obviously there are some businesses whose sole purpose is to compete on price (think Walmart). But for those whose business model does not compete on price, know that once you discount, your value goes out the window. If you waver on your value at all, your client will see and feel it and you've just turned their focus to getting the best deal instead of selling them on quality. You must know your value and stand your ground on it.
When someone asks you for a discount, I know it can be difficult to say NO right then and there, which is why I created this handy script swipe file (download here) which includes the exact verbiage that I use for saying no in a friendly yet confident way. It includes this and 3 other scripts for saying no to common situations you're triggered to say yes to.
7. Negative relationships
As much as we'd like to think we can get along with everyone, this just isn't the case. In the real world, personalities clash; friction occurs; people simply don't work well together. Successful business owners know the impact of the people around them on their own success - from their energy and work ethic to their leadership and communication styles. They also know that it often takes just one person to bring the whole ship down. They carefully cultivate their inner ring with people who align with their vision and purpose, who support them, and who push them to be a better leader, peer and person all around, even if this means disagreeing with them. Respect and integrity are the two most important components when cultivating this inner ring and if one person is souring the crowd, the entire dynamic of the group can shift.
8. Not spending money to make money
There's a time to be frugal and a time to invest. Successful business owners know the difference between the two. While it's certainly understandable for business owners to not spend money they don't have and to do everything in-house or as cheap as possible, it's not entirely justified. They are some situations where it is absolutely important to make the investment for the sake of growth.
9. Filling empty space
Successful people leave a certain amount of empty space in their lives and businesses for abundance to flourish. They know the power of keeping energy and time reserves. If you fill the space around you with activities, collaborations, meetings, phone calls, etc., where will the new, more profitable, opportunities fit? And where will the energy to capitalize on them come from? It's as simple as that.
10. Making too many decisions
There is such a thing as decision fatigue and it affects us all. No matter how rational of a human being you are, there is absolutely no way you can make decision after decision - say yes after yes to things - without paying a very draining biological price. Large or small - the yes's will add up and they add up quick. The moment you wake up, you decide whether to hit the snooze or not, what to wear, what to have for breakfast, if you should stop at Starbucks, what to do first at the office ... and this continues all day long. We make poor choices in what we say yes to, become more prone to settle, and act irrationally when we are mentally depleted from this decision fatigue. The more choices you make, the harder on your brain each one becomes and eventually your brain starts looking for shortcuts, usually in 1 of 2 forms: By acting impulsively and saying yes to things we don't want. Or it avoids making any choice at all, which means it chooses to say YES to nothing. Which often creates a larger problem in the long run. Successful business owners know how to preserve their decision-making ability by eliminating as many unnecessary decisions as possible.
11. Extracurricular Business Activities
There is a time and place for networking events, coffee meetings, and free speaking engagements. But at some point, the opportunity cost of these activities becomes more significant. A successful business owner asks the question, "What am I missing out on by going to/doing this thing?" She carefully weighs her options and keeps the majority of her business activities focused on revenue-generating tasks.
Yes, exposure is a good thing. But trading your time and energy for exposure typically doesn't pay off. You know what I'm talking about ... speaking for free at a convention because the organizers guarantee "great exposure!" or donating your services for the same false promise. At some point you have to stop giving away your value for exposure - it continues to keep you small. It often produces little to no return and unless you have a proven and tested lead generation system in place, you'll simply just waste your time, money and talents.
Need help with the exact verbiage for saying no? Download the free swipe file of "no" scripts that you can simply copy and paste into emails or use as a script on the phone.