It’s flattering to be asked to participate in a pop-up shop, sit on a panel, speak at a conference and the list goes on. But, you are not obliged to say YES just because an opportunity presents itself. In a recent post on time management, I mentioned that I wanted to talk more about the art of saying “NO”. In particular, as it relates to opportunities that just aren’t the right fit. Because not every opportunity that presents itself is the right opportunity. Of course, this begs the question of being able to discern an opportunity from the “right” opportunity. My answer? Trust your gut.
Over the course of time, with lots of trial and error and unfortunately, more money expended than I’d like to admit, I’ve mastered the art of saying NO. I’ve learned that it’s perfectly okay to decline opportunities that don’t align with my values, goals, or vision. We each have our own goals and the path that we will take to achieve them. Sometimes an opportunity is just that an opportunity. Determining the right opportunities for your business is much easier once you get very clear on your WHY.
Quality Over Quantity
In a world where the hustle is celebrated, it’s easy to fall into the trap of saying “yes” to every opportunity that comes our way. We’re often led to believe that more opportunities equal more success.
However, I’ve discovered that the real magic happens when we focus on the quality of these opportunities. Rather than the quantity. For example, not every pop-up or market Effie’s Paper has participated in has been the most financially beneficial. However, some have often been great for networking and building brand awareness. And to be honest, I’ve participated in some events where from the moment I walked in the door to set up I knew it was going to be a waste of time and money. But, that said, there are definitely reasons to participate in pop-up shops beyond making money. Last year I wrote a blog post on this topic, you can read it here.
Protecting Your Time and Energy
Saying “NO” isn’t about negativity; it’s about preserving your most precious resources – your time and energy. Every “YES” you give to something that doesn’t resonate with you is a “NO” to something that might be a perfect fit. Read that sentence again. Sometimes saying NO to one opportunity opens the door for another. But, if you say YES as soon as an opportunity presents itself, you risk precluding other opportunities that might be a better fit for your brand.
Aligning with Your Vision
Remember why you started on your journey in the first place. What are your company’s core values and goals? When you say “NO” to opportunities that don’t align with your vision, you create space for the ones that do. This is where the real magic happens.
Sometimes the most amazing opportunities crop up when you’re not looking for them. Over the long term, I’ve learned that the best way to create opportunities is to put your head down and hustle. For example, last year, Effie’s Paper was featured in Google’s Black-Owned Friday campaign. We filled out a survey we received about the campaign, the folks at Google did their research, ordered our products, and saw that the quality of products was as described and we were invited to participate in the campaign. It’s an amazing campaign featuring Ludacris; I documented the whole experience, and you can read all about it here. And most recently, we were one of 100 black-owned businesses invited to Beyoncé’s Black Parade Luncheon in NYC. These opportunities align with who we are and what Effie’s Paper is all about.
The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
But what if I pass up on something that could’ve been really great? The fear of missing out is a real thing. But what if we shift our perspective? If it was meant for you, it will come back around. Instead of fearing what we might miss, let’s embrace what we might gain – the time to invest in projects and opportunities that truly light us up. I’m currently working on a project with a company I had an opportunity to work within 2020. I can’t talk about it now, but I will be able to share the details soon.
Let’s just say, I was about to sign the paperwork in the Fall of 2020, but the more questions I asked, the more it didn’t seem right. Friends in the industry thought I was crazy for passing on it. And to be honest, I questioned myself for months after I walked away from the deal. And then just like that, in August of this year, a phone call with the right person presented an even better opportunity with the same company. Saying NO the first time around was the right thing for me and my business.
Remember what you see on Instagram is only a highlight reel. Social media shows you the highs and rarely the lows of the entrepreneurial journey – rarely do you see the disappointment, the slow sales months, production issues, etc.
Saying “NO” doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a discerning one. It means you know your worth and the value you bring. So, when you do say “NO,” do it gracefully and without guilt.
Other entrepreneurs and business owners will understand if an opportunity is not the right fit for you. And if they don’t, that’s ok too. At the end of the day, the only person you have to please is yourself.
Say No More Often
Saying “NO” to the wrong opportunities is your way of saying “YES” to a life that’s more in sync with your dreams and aspirations.
Let’s embrace the power of “NO” together and watch our lives flourish with purpose and meaning. Because when we choose our opportunities wisely, we’re not just creating success; we’re crafting a life that feels authentically ours.
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