In my first year of business, I said yes to every business opportunity that came my way.
If someone asked to interview me, I’d move my entire calendar around to make it work.
If someone asked me to guest post on her blog, I’d stay up until midnight writing and editing to get it done.
If a blogger asked me to provide a quote for an upcoming blog post, I’d drop everything and email her back my opinion on the topic.
If someone asked me to speak at a conference, I said yes despite the nausea rolling around in my stomach because I didn’t know if I was ready.
I didn’t care how big the person’s audience was, how long they’d been in business or whether I was the right fit. If I could make the time (even if that meant waking up at 4:30am), I said yes.
Because I dove in headfirst, I grew my own audience pretty quickly, and doing all of those things helped me sell out my first group coaching program six months into launching my business.
I’m grateful for each of those opportunities, but it wasn’t sustainable.
I didn’t take a single day off (including holidays) in the first six months of business and I was newly married. I remember the day my husband came to me and said, “I want to support you and your business. I’m so proud of you, but I miss my wife.”
And, I could feel the exhaustion in my bones.
When you start your business, you need to say yes to figure out what works best for your personality and brand, to grow your audience, and to connect with others in and out of your niche.
But, after a year of jumping at every opportunity, you quickly realize that strategy isn’t going to work long-term.
Not only that, but it becomes clear that every time you say yes to one thing, you’re saying no lots of other possibilities.
When you agree to write a monthly column for another blogger, you’re taking away time you could be writing a post for your own blog.
That time that you spend prepping for a speaking engagement, traveling and speaking could be spent creating and launching an ecourse.
The hour you spent answering questions for an interview could’ve been spent at a yoga class or having lunch with a friend.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t participate in blog tours or accept interview or guest posting opportunities. Making time for networking and marketing is important, but once you get past the very beginning, it’s essential that you say yes to the right things.
At this point in my business, I say no 90% of the time.
When someone asks me to advertise on my blog, it’s an automatic no (and I still get these requests pretty much daily).
When a blogger asks to interview me, I spend a few minutes checking out her website and past interviews to see if I feel like it’d be a good fit.
When someone contacts me to speak at a conference, I consider what other speaking engagements I’ve already agreed to, how much time I’d be spending on the prep and travel, and whether or not the audience is the perfect fit. Even though I love speaking and teaching, I know what works best for me and because I don’t have the travel bug (can I get a ‘what what’ from my fellow homebodies), I only accept one to three speaking opportunities each year.
As an entrepreneur, my most valuable resource is time. It took me a few years to really appreciate that.
Now that I decline most offers that pop up in my inbox, I’ve gotten comfortable with saying no.
At first, I struggled every single time.
I worried that I’d hurt the other person’s feelings or offend them. I also had that nagging feeling that maybe I’d regret saying no. What if that opportunity made a huge difference to my business?
I get it. It’s easier to say yes in the moment, but when you continue to say yes to the wrong things, you start to resent them and wish you had time to write your next ebook or walk your dogs or take that Instagram course.
That’s why I’m writing this post. Use the scripts below to say no—whether it’s to something ridiculous (like writing a sponsored post for a local mechanic when your wedding planning blog has nothing to do with cars) or something you might be up for in the future or something personal. I tried to cover it all!
You can copy and paste these scripts or you can use the basic idea and make it your own.
Saying no to people who want free stuff
1. I really appreciate your email and I know it’s not easy to reach out to someone you don’t know to ask for help. Unfortunately, I have to decline because I run a small business and every second counts. Working for free just isn’t an option. I have a package if you want to work together and you can find the details and pricing right here (insert link to sales page). If you’re not in a position to hire me, I’ve got a bunch of free resources on my blog. You can find multiple posts that’ll help you on my Start Here page (link to that page).
2. Thanks for contacting me! I’m so glad that you’re interested in _____________ (chatting with me on Skype, my website designs, etc.). I actually have a package for this. You can find it and my prices right here (add sales page link). I hope you have a great day!
3. I’m honored that you want to give away one of my custom necklaces (or whatever you sell) on your blog. Because of the time and materials, I can’t provide one for free, but if you decide to purchase one to give away, I’ll giftwrap and ship it for no extra cost.
Saying no to someone asking for trade secrets (like a list of supplies)
4. I could tell you but then I’d have to banish you to Azkaban. Just teasing…but I don’t share that information, because it’s one of my trade secrets.
5. It took me years to ______________ (find the best supplies, learn my craft, connect with the bloggers I guest post for, etc.), so I don’t share that information with anyone. I hope you can understand.
Saying no to interviews and guest posts
6. Thank you for the invite! Unfortunately, my calendar is booked for the next few months. If you’d like to contact me again in _______________ (month you might be available), we might be able to set something up. Thanks again for thinking of me.
7. I appreciate the invitation, but I’m overbooked with my _____________ (upcoming launch, book edits, prep for a speaking engagement, upcoming line of jewelry, etc.) and I promised my hubby that any spare time will go towards a date night. Thanks for thinking of me!
8. Thank you so much for thinking of me, but I’m not sure that I’m the right fit for __________________ (your podcast, this guest post topic, etc.). I wish you all the best!
Saying no to speaking engagements
9. Your event looks like a blast, but I only accept three speaking engagements per year and I’m currently booked for this year. If you want to check back with me when you’re planning for next year, I’ll lookout for your email.
10. Thank you so much for the invitation to speak at _______________ (name of conference), but I’m currently booked. I hope your event is a complete success!
Saying no to advertising or sponsored posts
11. I don’t advertise on ____________ (name of your website). I hope you have a great day!
12. My audience isn’t the right fit for ____________________ (whatever they want you to advertise). I hope you have a great day!
13. Since my blog is all about ______________ (whatever you blog about), I don’t think advertising ______________ (recliner chairs or whatever product they want you to advertise) makes any sense. (I realize this one is harsh…but come on people! Do a little research before emailing.)
Saying no to affiliate offers
14. Your _____________ (ecourse, launch, video series, etc) looks amazing. Congrats! I appreciate the invitation to be one of your affiliates, but I don’t join any affiliate programs. If you’d like to send me some tweets that I can copy and paste, I’d be happy to spread the word on social media—no incentives necessary!
15. Thanks for the invite, but this isn’t the right fit for my audience. I wish you all the best with your launch.
16. Affiliate programs aren’t really my jam but thanks for thinking of me. Congrats on your launch!
17. I appreciate the offer, but I’m completely booked with all of the affiliate programs I feel comfortable joining at the moment. If something changes, I’ll email you.
Saying no to someone wanting you to share her stuff (like blog posts or infographics)
18. This isn’t the right fit for my audience, but I wish you all the best.
19. Thanks for reaching out to me. While your infographic looks really cool, I don’t include other people’s infographics on my blog or in my emails. My visuals are a part of my brand so I only use my own. But, I couldn’t help but pin it and tweet about it. Thanks for sharing it with me.
20. I only share people’s content when I find it myself and know that my audience will love it. I’m sure your ______________ (blog post, infographic, etc.) is great and I’ll add it to my list of things to check out when I have a chance. If it’s the right fit, I’ll share it on social media. I hope you have a lovely day!
Saying no to a good friend who also runs a business
21. You know I adore you, right? And, I’m super flattered that you want me to design your website for you (or whatever she wants you to do). When we pair up, we do have a lot of fun and I’m so happy we can share business-y stories. I’m going to have to say no to this, because I feel like your style would be a better match with another designer (be honest but kind). I can recommend a handful of designers that I think you’d love (give a suggestion that works for the situation). We need to catch up soon. Skype date?
Saying no to friends and family
22. I can’t _______________ (go grocery shopping, talk on the phone, go get a manicure) during the workday. Even though I work from home, I keep strict hours. If you’d like to ______________ (go grocery shopping, talk on the phone, go get a manicure) after 6 or this weekend, I’m in.
23. I wish I would’ve known about ______________ (your bridal shower, your open house, etc.) sooner. I’ve already got something scheduled. Maybe we could grab a drink next month—just the two of us—and celebrate?!
24. Girl, please. Ain’t nobody got time for book club (or insert activity that applies).
25. I know I haven’t been able to spend a lot of time with you lately. This ____________ (launch, book, new line of knitting of patterns, etc.) is gobbling up all of my time. I seriously appreciate your support and patience and as soon as I’m done, we can spend an entire day doing anything you want.
26. Potluck dinners (or whatever activity you aren’t into) aren’t really my thing, but I’d love to grab brunch with you next week. I miss you and seriously need to know who you’re rooting for on Dancing with the Stars.
27. Mom, no. I love you.
Saying no to that rude family member that makes you want to poke out your own eyeballs when you have to spend more than 15 minutes with her/him
28. Sorry. *White Noise* You’re cutting out. *White Noise* The house is going through a tunnel. *Hang up* (If you know where this is from, you get eighty-seven million bonus points.)
When you say no to someone, no matter the situation, it’s best to: express gratitude, keep it short while telling them why you’re declining, and offer alternatives if that’s an option.
If you want to run a successful business, you’ve got to get comfortable saying no.
It’s integral to preserve your energy and focus your time on your priorities (like making money honey!).