When and How to Say “NO” in Your Business

Saying 'no' is the hardest part.

If you are a people pleaser, saying ‘no’ can be especially difficult. Additionally, if you are in the beginning stages of your business, ‘no’ might not and probably should not be your answer. In that respect, saying ‘no’ is almost a luxury to look forward to, but it should be used sooner than later.

Down below I have included three different stages that you might be in, in your business, and the appropriate response at that time. i.e. how to say ‘no’. Find your statement (or read them all for reference) to see where on the ‘no’ scale you are.

As always, there are also some extra goodies in the accompanying video.  (The wind in particularly, is meant to be there 😉 )

Being self aware in your business will help you know when to say 'no'.

Knowing yourself and where you are at in your business is critical to be able to make educated decisions in your business. Check out these statements below. Whichever one is you, that is how and when you will say ‘no’.

Number 01. "Hey there, just starting out"

When you first start your business, you say ‘yes’ to everything left and right… and I think you should as long as it’s not obvious you shouldn’t. i.e. if saying ‘yes’ goes directly against your values or isn’t in the ballpark of the service that you provide.

By saying yes, you figure out who you want to work with, what you like to do and how you like to do it.  It’s the perfect time to hone-in on a process or system and build a foundation for the future.


The most important thing, during this time (and any time really), is to work with the intention of figuring out who you want to work with, how you want to work them and what you want to work on.


I know it can be hard when people like me say that you need to know why you are doing things, and proceed to ask you who you want to work with and how you are serving them… and frankly, in the beginning, you most likely don’t know and that’s OK.

It’s actually more than ok, it’s really where you should be.

Just like when you are learning anything, you just have to start, mess up a bit, adjust, and keep going.

Number 02. "oh yes, I have been around for a bit"


If you are passed the beginning stages of running your business, you might be asking yourself when it’s time to say ‘no’ or how you know when to say ‘no’ to new work or “opportunities” that might not be aligned with what you want, what you like to do, and/or where you are going.

When you have worked with clients who do not value time like you do, who are cheap, who micromanage you, who are late, who are on time, who don’t question your pricing, who laugh at your jokes … (AKA the good and the bad), then, you will start to be able to see who and how you serve your clients best, and at the same time, you will also know the opposite— who you don’t want to work with.

[Sometimes it’s easier to point out who or what you don’t want to work with/on]


So basically, the answer to the question “How do you know when to say ‘no’? is by doing the work.


When you do that, you will also start realizing what you enjoy more and start looking around to see what possibilities are out there that you can create and then, all of a sudden, your vision on how the future should look becomes clearer as well. When you know where you want to take your business and what kind of opportunities you are looking for, you also know which ones you should not take.

Number 03. "I am ready for the next of everything"

Then it’s time to say no more often! 

If a project doesn’t align with you, if it’s not going in the direction you see your company going, if you don’t have bandwidth, if something doesn’t feel right or if you really aren’t the service provider for that project— let it go. 

How do you say no? Simply be honest. You don’t have to over explain anything. Respect yourself, respect others and let them know. You most likely would want that courtesy yourself— so give it to others.

How I see it: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

Yes, of course business is about providing service and making money, but it’s so much more than that too. For us, it’s a lifestyle, so I believe working in a place of joy and from heart, is just as important.

The sooner you start to say no to work that doesn’t align with your values or direction, the sooner you give space for the work that does.

Round up:

  • Mess up and realign
  • Pay attention
  • Reflect on your intentions
  • It’ not what you say, it’s how you say it.
Let’s get to work!

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