You’ve heard the adage that the very best leaders continuously say, “no.” However it’s one factor to listen to the recommendation and one other to expertise it. I didn’t imagine within the energy of that phrase till I truly began saying “no” with intention. Because of this, I watched my income develop threefold whereas clocking half the hours and having fun with my work excess of earlier than.
I additionally assume that recommendation wants a caveat: Saying “sure” to each alternative that comes your method isn’t at all times a foul method. Particularly once I was transitioning from working in-house to beginning my very own advertising and marketing consultancy, The Lane Collective, saying “sure” to new initiatives and other people was a studying alternative, serving to me suss out the work I actually wished to do. Plus, it was a confidence increase to show to myself that I may get a full roster of shoppers.
However about 9 months in, I noticed that defaulting to “sure” was not serving me. I used to be continuously task-switching and bandwidth constrained. It appeared like regardless of how a lot I hustled, my income appeared to remain the identical. My work was struggling—and so was my private life. I used to be so burnt out that I used to be contemplating quitting this unbiased profession altogether, though I cherished the work.
After deep reflection, I noticed that it was time to reorient myself in relation to my work. Naturally, my purpose was a thriving advertising and marketing enterprise—however “thriving” started to tackle a extra well-rounded which means. I wished my work to allow a extra full life, one with extra room for hobbies, and extra psychological and emotional area for family members. In any case, I imagine that my work’s objective ought to improve my broader objective, not develop into it. I made a decision that if I used to be going to do the work, it needed to work for me, too.
That meant issues wanted to alter
A sensible unbiased advisor as soon as informed me, “the issues that get you to your first $100,000 are the identical issues that may maintain you again out of your subsequent.” If saying “sure” is what allowed me to get my enterprise going, saying “no” is what helped me develop to new heights. Listed below are some issues I began saying “no” to and the measurable impact this shift had on my enterprise success and my private wellbeing.
I Mentioned “No” to Sure Varieties of Purchasers
One thing needed to give, and I noticed I wanted extra room to concentrate on particular, aligned engagements. That meant letting go of some superb shoppers who simply weren’t going to be a match for the way forward for my enterprise. I began culling my shopper roster, and I imply significantly culling: I let go of 70-80 p.c of the shoppers I used to be working with at the moment.
I wished to concentrate on tech-enabled startups on the earliest levels who have been able to develop. I had about 10-15 shoppers on the time, and fewer than a 3rd matched that profile. So, I did the scary factor and let go of all the remainder. That meant parting methods with shoppers I actually appreciated. It additionally, after all, meant turning away a lot of income.
They are saying a hen within the hand is price two within the bush, however that was merely not the case for me. Working with great but unaligned shoppers meant that I couldn’t entice those that have been a greater match. Letting them go opened up that area, and, amazingly, the “proper match” shoppers discovered me fairly rapidly afterward.
Decreasing my shopper load additionally opened up time to strategically take into consideration the sort of enterprise I wished as a substitute of getting buried within the day-to-day duties. I constructed an inbound course of so I may higher choose whether or not new potential shoppers can be the appropriate match, and I nonetheless flip down about 90 p.c of inquiries to today.
However the shoppers I’ve are these I really feel fortunate to work with each single day, which has made an exceptional enhance within the quantity of psychological area and enthusiasm I’ve for the work.
I Mentioned “No” to Duties Exterior of My “Zone of Genius”
I additionally started saying “no” to sure sorts of duties inside my shopper contracts.
As is frequent for a lot of advertising and marketing consultants, particularly early-on, I used to be doing somewhat little bit of every little thing: social media technique, content material technique, content material writing, and even serving to out with paid media when a shopper was in a pinch.
And whereas I may do all of these items, it wasn’t essentially the most environment friendly use of my time, or how I may present the utmost worth for my shoppers. Plus, it typically wasn’t essentially the most energizing work for me to do.
My superpower is translating an concept into motion, so I made a decision to concentrate on fractional CMO work. I shifted from being a one-woman present to the “collective” mannequin I’ve in the present day. Now, when a shopper wants full-stack advertising and marketing help, I’ve a community of selling specialists I can introduce them to.
Strategists are usually costly executors. It’s much more priceless to my shoppers to work with professional companions when crucial, and extra junior folks for execution as relevant. Plus, focusing my companies has allowed me to proceed to construct my experience in that space, in order that I can present extra worth to shoppers and lift my charges.
Maybe most significantly, spending extra time on the duties I really like most has dramatically improved my power and enthusiasm—I can’t keep in mind the final time I dreaded my work.
I Mentioned “No” to Charging By the Hour
Round this time, I started researching totally different pricing fashions for unbiased contractors or freelancers. One concept actually stood out: value-based pricing. The concept, in a nutshell, is that you just value your companies based mostly on the worth you’re creating to your shoppers. Like most consultants, my worth is my experience, not my time.
Transferring away from hourly contracts was essentially the most troublesome, but additionally probably the greatest adjustments I made. I used to be terrified. Charging by the hour felt secure. However like so many issues that really feel secure, it was additionally limiting.
I shifted my contracts to a project-based method, centered on deliverables and outcomes as a substitute of hours labored. I used to be capable of develop my revenue by specializing in high-value deliverables; these are those which can be essentially the most aligned with my zone of genius, and most crucial to my shoppers. I discovered that my shoppers grew to desire this method, too. It’s measurable, predictable, and quality-driven in a method that hourly contracts merely can’t be. Win-win!
I’ve discovered that not solely do shoppers like the benefit of project-based agreements, additionally they just like the value-add. I’m on their staff in a method that an hourly contractor can’t be, as a result of I’m motivated by outcomes identical to they’re. Virtually each shopper has requested to develop the contract, even with out my needing to pitch something.
I Mentioned “No” to Burning Myself Out
As a result of state of my wellbeing once I began this course of, I had the intention of working half the time and making double the cash, which frankly felt inconceivable. However I used to be burned out, working 60+ hours every week, and giving an excessive amount of of myself to too many purchasers in a method that was draining my love for the work.
Miraculously, saying “no” extra helped me obtain that purpose, after which some. I now work about 25-30 hours every week and am making shut to a few instances the income. I’ve 4 or 5 anchor shoppers at a time, plus capability for one or two strategic sprints per 30 days with new shoppers. Generally I fill these slots, and generally I don’t so I’ve extra time to, say, go on trip and truly unplug (one other purpose that after felt inconceivable).
Giving time again to myself has finally helped my enterprise develop, too. I’ve a pal who at all times says, “Once you work for your self, you are your personal enterprise.” Which means caring for your personal wants isn’t simply “self care,” it’s what lets you present up as your greatest self in your work.
Once you say “no” to 1 factor, you’re saying “sure” to one thing else. For me, saying “sure” to a extra fulfilled life and profession required saying some troublesome “nos” alongside the best way. Was it price it? Completely. In the long run, saying “no” was releasing for me, permitting me to commit my power to issues which have the best influence out and in of labor.