Is it Time to Just Say NO?

Most of us are busy, but undisciplined. We are active, but not focused. We are moving, but not always in the right direction. -Jack Canfield

In the things they never told me before I became an entrepreneur file is how important it is to be a good steward of time. For most of us, we start our careers working for other people who have a schedule they want us to adhere too. Even though I lived in the world of sales where there is certainly more flexibility than in your typical 8-5 “go to the office” routine, there was still structure to the day. People expected things of me at specific times. It made it easier to say no to the other stuff. After all, it might not be wise to risk the paycheck. Why then do we develop amnesia in this area when we become independent business owners?

Entrepreneur = Rainmaker

Guess what? You won’t initially have much of a salary, if any, when you first start out. Unless of course you are one of the lucky ones whose company received a million dollar cash infusion from the local venture capitalist down the street. For most of us though, WE ARE the paycheck. Every moment of our time is either billable or not. And not isn’t a good thing. You need to remember that your corporate brethren aren’t thinking this way, because if they waste time here and there - they still get their paycheck. You, however, do not.

Saying NO is hard to do.

Though it was fairly easy when I was on the corporate clock to say no to requests that would interfere with my other business obligations, what is so different now? The answer will vary depending on the person, but here are 5 reasons why I think we stumble.

  1. Ego. It’s nice to feel in demand. When you are out on your own, it’s easy to feel a little disconnected and unrecognized.
  2. We feel obligated. After all, someone else introduced us and suggested that the two of us meet. It is even tougher if the connector is your paying client.
  3. People won’t like us. In our desire to “be nice”, we are driven to accommodate the wants of others forgetting that our own goals and priorities need to take center stage.
  4. Activity is confused with effectiveness. Lots of activity doesn’t magically lead to revenue. It is the right kind of activity that does.
  5. We aren’t thinking like real business owners yet. Real business owners know that their time really is money!

After the lunch meeting today that wasn’t, I was once more reminded of how important it is to think thoughtfully about what gets locked in on your calendar. An hour of my day was wasted waiting to meet someone who never called, sent a text message or an email to say he couldn’t meet with me after all. The eventual response to the email I’d sent while waiting in the restaurant was…”My apologies. I had a packed morning and did not check my calendar. Thank you for your understanding.” Maybe my response needs to be…”Here’s the bill for my time today. Thank YOU for understanding.”

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