Learning to Say No So You Can Say Yes

Posted by on Nov 18, 2019 in Entrepreneurship

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

–Warren Buffet

My company turned six this past summer and one thing I can say for certain is that it’s been an evolution. Even though my mission has always been to work with socially conscious enterprises and that hasn’t changed, I’ve narrowed down the focus (more on that later). When I first launched Grassfed Media, I also intended to do mostly content strategy and writing because that’s what I had always done. It’s so easy to fall back on what we know and to stay well within one’s comfort zone. But that doesn’t always work as a business growth strategy.

Early on, I started getting requests to do public relations. “You’d be great at PR,” I heard often. And I suppose that at first glance, it’s true. I’m outgoing and have a knack for finding compelling stories and trends. I know a good story hook when I see one and I understand what makes editors tick. Plus, I’m a hustler from way back before “hustling” was part of the popular business vernacular.

At first, I resisted. After all, my background was as a journalist and the idea of going to the “dark side” was completely alien to me. What I eventually realized is that PR and editorial aren’t that different and over the years, many of my publishing colleagues have jumped over to PR for a myriad of reasons including better pay and more opportunities.

Eventually I warmed up to the idea of offering public relations services to clients when I realized that I could work with businesses and organizations that aligned with my values. Touting their products and services was easy when I believed in what they were doing.

As I said earlier, the one constant in owning a small business, and frankly, in life, is that things change. It’s cliche but if you don’t evolve, you will probably fail, or at the very least, stagnate. The great thing about being a small business with very little overhead and no full-time staff is that I can be nimble and shift the business as demand and my goals change. So PR is a big part of what we do, along with brand and marketing strategy, coaching, and media training.

Now, after six years in business, I am embarking on a new phase of Grassfed Media: A renewed commitment to working with wellness brands that inspire and excite me — companies like All Good, Detox Market and Headspace — to name a few. This is still in line with my original mission to work with mission-driven, triple bottom line organizations. But with this slight shift, I’m honing in what matters to me on a very personal level: health, mindfulness, sustainability, well-being, and alternative healing.

Part of this effort means saying no to potential projects that don’t align with my vision for where I want to take the company. It’s not easy. After all, we are conditioned to say yes. Saying no is challenging and can be uncomfortable. But it’s critical to success.

Saying yes to everything can lead to burnout, to being scattered, and to never quite reaching your goals. I’ve been there, especially when I first started. As a small business without a ton of resources or capital, I said yes most of the time, even when my gut was telling me it wasn’t a good fit. Sometimes things worked out but more often than not, I should have listened to my intuition.

What I’ve learned is that saying no opens space for the right kinds of projects and clients. Writes Samantha Radocchia in this Fast Company article, “You’re making room in your life for the things you really want.” Saying no gives me the opportunity to really lean into my vision for myself and my business.

This shift in the business is a subtle but important goal that I’ve set for myself and for my company as we head into a new year and a new decade. What are you saying no to so that you can say YES! when the time is right?

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