The Business of ‘No’

This month we’re taking a look at some lessons and leaders who are part of Black History Month and applying them to our businesses.  Today we’re talking about one of the more iconic moments of the Civil Rights movement in 1955, Rosa Parks and her famous bus ride.  She chose to stand up for what she believed was her right: a seat on the bus.  She not only stood up for what she believed, she also said no.  Those two things together can give us great power and control in our businesses.

Being a good business owner is about knowing where the lines should be laid and if and when they should be crossed.  The lines aren’t pointless or stupid, they are there for our protection, the protection of the business and the protection of our employees and customers. Risks are an important aspect of growing your business, but they shouldn’t be taken without due consideration.  As the leader it’s up to you to know when the lines have been pushed too far, and which lines should never be crossed.

How do we learn this? Some of it can be learned by watching what other businesses and leaders have done, but often it’s up to us to do trial and error.  Depending on the enormity of the risk you’re considering taking would depend how much research you should do and how far over the line you’re willing to go.  If it’s as serious a thing as Rosa Park’s seat on the bus was and the rest of the Civil Rights movement, you should be willing to go pretty far.

But sometimes the only thing you should say is ‘no.’ For example: when you’re asked to do something you’re not comfortable with; when you don’t have the resources and can’t find, develop or make them; when a new direction is suggested that, although it would be profitable, isn’t a good fit for your business; when you’ve had an employee for a year who has yet to fully do the job they claimed they could do when they were hired and hasn’t shown initiative; when a client has yet to follow the advice you’ve given; or when you’re tired of getting walked on and failing.  Learning to say ‘no’ could be exactly what you need to further your business and get more customers you’re actually excited to help.

What do you need to say “no” to in your business?

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