For most entrepreneurs, there’s dozens of moving parts in their business. From technology to communication, there’s a never ending to-do list. It only gets crazier when you add staff members. However, entrepreneurs fight on as their ultimate goal is to make it! Besides business, we have lives too. There’s kids, sports, and family emergencies. Unfortunately, as businesses grow, it only gets more complicated and busy. There’s even more pressure to perform and get things done. Entrepreneurs who started a business as a path to freedom, now find themselves trapped with too much work. In most cases, I find that the entrepreneur jeopardizes their health, family, or relationships for the success of the business. Not good! Sometimes the pressure gets to be so great, they give up all together and go back to having a JOB. In today’s post, I’ll answer the biggest secret I’ve learned to being successful as an entrepreneur. The secret might shock you, but it is a principle that Sarah and I try to live by.
The Struggle We All Face
Recently, I blogged about refreshing your vision. That post really struck a chord in my heart. Since August, I’ve been on a terror to make things better. Week by week, the vision has become clearer in my heart. I know big things are coming. Not just for Sarah and I, but for our clients and marketing students as well. Even with loads of vision, getting things done isn’t easy. The truth is, we all have goals and dreams. We want to start a business. We want to get in better shape. We want to save money. We want to be better parents. We want to quit a bad habit. Yes, we have the vision. That’s not our problem. We start off exercising, and then an injury comes up that derails us. We start saving money and then the car breaks down. We start with hope and then something knocks the wind out of our sails! The problem is, we simply don’t have the resources or time. Secretly, many of us believe we have an unfair disadvantage.
Knock Knock. Who’s There? Interruptions and Chaos
Yes, I have goals too. I also have interruptions and distractions. They are ever present and try to derail me every day. For example, my week started with a major technical problem. One of our servers was down for almost 2 days causing a bombardment of emails. To make matters worse, my schedule was especially packed this week with meetings and events. Tuesday, I had a meeting that lasted for 3 hours in the morning. Wednesday, another four hour training session for my students occupied the majority of the day. Thursday, I chaperoned a field trip with my oldest daughter. On top of all of this, I’ve been fighting a cold. That’s just the tip of the iceberg though as there’s distractions everywhere.
As I started writing this post, my office telephone was ringing. It was an anonymous caller, which I let go to voicemail. I have no idea who the caller was, but answering it is a risk that might have costed me five minutes. Honestly, we get telephone calls all day long. From prospective clients, students, and even telemarketers, there’s no end to it. It’s not just the ringing phone either. I just pulled up a report on my business email account showing I received over 764 personal emails in November. Another glance shows us receiving another 165 online chat questions or comments. There’s also client support tickets, developer tickets, and a whole slew of postal mail that we receive each month. Even with all this going on around me, I’m totally at peace. We’re current on everything and are living very balanced lives. The secret is in the power of one little word.
Matt, can you do _______ for me?
Warning! What I’m about to write might make me sound like I’m heartless. You’ll be tempted to judge me and call me selfish. It may rub you the wrong way, but here’s one of the biggest secrets to success. Ready? Almost every day I receive a request from someone wanting something from me. Many of these requests come from prospective students wanting a discount or deal. The answer I give is always the same! No! Other times, I’ll receive an email from a prospective marketing client. They’re wanting a quick price quote and proposal, but are unwilling to dialog by telephone. We politely say “no”, as that’s just not how we work. Sometimes it’s that guy at church wanting help moving on Saturday. Sorry Tim, I can’t help you move. Matt, can you do this or do that? No! I can’t. I’m sorry, but I just can’t! The word is short. It’s just two letters. Unfortunately, the word “NO” is an extremely offensive word, but it is the ultimate secret to sanity and living at peace.
People Will Love You… Until You Say No
I could tell you some crazy stories friends. The sweetest and most kind people will turn into venomous vipers when you say that little word! One minute you’re their best pal and the next minute they’re damning you to hell. I’m talking about nasty, mean words that cut really deep. The truth is, people who act like this when they don’t get what they want are bullies. “Matt, can I have your lunch money?” I say no and they are ready to fight.
So why do I almost always tell people no when they ask us for something? It starts with my core beliefs about success. I believe that success in life isn’t determined by what say “yes” to, but what I say “no” to. By saying “no”, I’m eliminating options and distractions. While some of these are seemingly good things, I know I still must say “no” to them or they will keep me from what matters most. I’ll admit it, I’ve been a nay sayer. I’ve said “no” to marketing students wanting to give me money. I cancelled a client’s project and referred many other leads to my students. I’ve passed on opportunities. I’ve let calls go to voicemail when I could have easily answered. I’ve ignored emails that didn’t merit a response. Heck, I’ve even locked our office door, even ignoring when someone when they rang the doorbell. In my personal life, much of the same is true. I’ve said no often. I’ve refused to volunteer. I’ve said “no” to some people when they asked for money. I’ve even refused to help others when they asked. So am I the world’s biggest jerk?
Saying Yes to What Matters Most
Before you judge me to harshly, here’s a couple words in my defense. First of all, we do respond to every prospect email question that merits a response. Recently, when new marketing prospects have asked for help or a proposal, we’ve referred them to our students. Secondly, our office sign clearly reads by appointment only. Our door is always locked. We’ve never been open to the public due to our flexible schedule. Additionally, we ignore inbound telephone calls and unscheduled visitors because of the numerous solicitors. Our business is 100% up to date with support tickets and all client projects. Our clients businesses are growing. Yes, even our students are becoming stronger and stronger. Each week that passes, we hear of more success stories. Lastly, when I say no to personal requests, it’s because my wife and I both agree that it isn’t the right decision for our family. So even though we’ve said “no” often, we’ve delivered on all of our commitments.
Remember, people hate hearing the word no. I’m not suggesting you stop saying yes just to tick people off. I’m suggesting you say “no” because of what matters most. For example, what about your family? What about your children? What about your health? What about your marriage? What about you? I’m talking about your dreams and hopes for the future. You want to know the truth? We all could say “yes” more and try to please everyone. Let’s go get more clients! Let’s get more students! Let’s send more emails! Let’s work more hours! Let’s answer more phone calls! That’s the world we live in. The world of more. More is never enough. Ironically, saying “yes” also means you’ll say “no” to something else. The question is, what matters most?
Over the last four months, my theme has been NO! I’ve been purposeful about it. By saying “no” more often, I’ve been able to say “yes” to my health, marriage, kids, and the things that matter most. That’s not all though. By fighting off the many distractions, our business is also doing what matters most as well. I spent about three weeks researching and updating our business plan. I now have clear directions and goals. We also completely revamped and improved our consulting process, monthly marketing packages, and various other client services. This work completed will now make it much easier for our students and myself to price out and plan marketing projects. While that’s impressive, there’s more. We completed our first book for business owners. It includes over 20,000 words and other resources to help businesses win. Granted, there’s a few final touches that need to be made and everything won’t be released until the spring of 2017. The point I’ve tried to make is simple. We fill our lives with so many things. We want to experience everything. There’s nothing with enjoying yourself. The problem is that we get out of balance. We can’t put down our mobile devices. We can’t say “no” to Facebook or our favorite TV show.
So what are your dreams for 2017? Will you be healthy? Will you start a business? Will you do all that’s in your heart? Chances are good that your success lies in your ability to say “no” to the distracting noise that’s keeping you from your destiny. Success has very little to do with luck. I believe a big portion of everyone’s success comes down to the ability to say no.