By now, hopefully you’ve put some thought into what you are, and what you are not. That’s great, it still doesn’t help me get out of this rut I’ve created.

Not to fret. This post is for you! The good news is, anyone can do this. The bad news is that this is really hard. The other good news is that anything worth doing is rarely easy.

The secret to this part of the process is that you have to face your fears and overcome them.

Let’s be honest, starting/running a small business has a level of fear that, for me, is up there with raising my kids.

So, let’s discuss the power of “no.” I know, at face value, your immediate assumption is that I’m going to tell you how to say no to clients or customers. While, yes, there is a touch of that, this is more about empowering yourself by saying “no” to yourself.

What? Easy. A job comes up that doesn’t pay well or that isn’t going to be worth your time investment, the old you would take the job because the voice of fear is whispering in your ear saying, “you better take this. You never know where the next money is going to come from.” You take the job, and, surprise, surprise, you hate it and by the end of it, you, at your core, know that it was not worth the money just to have the work.

When the voice of fear is whispering, you yell back at it. NO!!!! You are in control. Fear is not, unless you allow it.

The first time is scary. I’m not going to lie. Even when you say “no,” fear keeps whispering in your ear. Here’s another secret: the fear will never stop whispering. Denying fear it’s foothold does get easier, though.

This is where you will have to stand up for yourself against an enemy that will likely be the hardest enemy you stand up against. That enemy is the person who stares back at you in the mirror. The version of you who is afraid that you may make the wrong decision. But, you know what? No one was ever successful by playing it safe and making all the right decisions. If they were, they were some sort of freak or it didn’t last.

You’ve no doubt heard the term “risk versus reward” and this is that concept in its most basic form.

If you’re going to do this, though, you have to be ready to out logic yourself. Not-scared you has to have a better argument than scared you. How do you prepare yourself for this inner battle? By figuring out what you are and what you are not! Starting to see a pattern? These all tie in together. If it’s something that you have a harder time identifying or it’s not blatantly obvious, write it down. At least, you’ve given your reasoning a voice and when scared you takes over and starts trying to talk you out of saying “no,” then, not-scared you has already submitted their opposing argument and, in the back of your mind, you can see that, when you’re not afraid, this is what you think is best for you and your business. I think we can all agree that decisions made from a place of fear are rarely the best or right decision. They may not be the worst decision, but, they’re definitely not the best. So, why not set up some reminders of what you think when you’re confident and not afraid?

Another huge thing to help you outsmart your scared self is to put some tangible numbers to what you’re worth. I’m not talking about the value of a human life. You can’t put a number on that. I’m talking about what’s your time and labor worth?

Things to consider in this process are your level of experience, education, and your efficiency.

On top of that, what about your investment in equipment? Something else, your resources. What is all of that worth? You didn’t spend your time and money for nothing. This isn’t a hobby. It’s your profession. Write all of that down and memorize it until it’s so ingrained in your brain that it becomes part of your measuring stick when it comes to decision making.

Once you learn to stand up for yourself to yourself, something magical happens, you learn to stand up to clients.

Now, let me disclaimer, no matter how this next part sounds, I’m not basing any of this on the assumption that our clients operate from a place of malice. This is about setting boundaries.

So, you’ve got a customer that is a hardball negotiator, and they come make you an offer on a job that’s well below what you’ve quoted and way below the value that you would offer on the job. What do you do?

Let’s up the ante.  This is a really big client and you know that working with them will bring some new level of legitimacy to you as a business or service provider.

What do you do? Man, this is a tough one.

Most of us, at least starting out, would take the job and quickly regret it, but, hold on to the notoriety that might come from working with this person/company. Then, in the end, you’ve ended up doing more work that you were supposed to, you’re hating life, the client’s not terribly grateful because you allowed them to undervalue your work, and you would, just as soon, never work with them again.

Sound familiar?

What if you did something different. What if your process was something like this?

You battle with yourself that this is isn’t a good deal, but, the client could be worth it and, after all, it’s money. But, then you remember something. You have a piece of paper hanging up next to your desk that says, “I’m not going to take any bad deals because my work is worth [fill in the blank].”

Hmmm… Okay, well, I can’t really win this argument with myself. So, I guess it’s time to have a discussion with the potential client, and your conversation goes something like this:

“So, I know that you have done some research and my competition makes it look like my bid is too high. That’s fair, but, do you think that the other companies you looked at can deliver what you want at the level of quality that I can? If they can, then, they are clearly the better deal. But, I can guarantee you that that won’t happen because we have a skill-set unlike anyone else you’ve talked to. I have resources that they don’t have. I have spent years honing our craft and every new job is the next hardest thing I’ve ever done because I believe in forward progress. I also guarantee that we can exceed your expectations and that what we give you will not be like anything you can get from anyone else.”

Wow. That’s quite the power play, is it not? The first time you ever say anything like this, you will be terrified, but, you have to mean it. It can’t be lip service. It has to be the truth from your core.

As a result, one of two things will likely happen:

  1. The client responds with, “well, okay then. Let’s do it,” or they start a fair negotiation.
  2. They turn you down and all of the sudden, you realize that they either want the cheapest option, or they really don’t value your work and you don’t want to work with them anyway and you let out a big sigh of relief because you just dodged a bullet because you’ve now realized that they would have been horrible for you to work with.

You’ve experience the power of “no” and you’ve stood up for yourself. Imagine how that feels.

Once you get a taste, it’s hard to go back. However, you still have to work at it. Heck, we still have to work at it. However, when you do it, it’s totally worth it.

I hope that you’ve found value in this series. If not for your business, these concepts totally work in your personally live with a little bit of adjustment.

I would really love for you to leave comments here. Ask questions. Leave your thoughts. Let us know what you think!


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