How To Say “No” in Business


This weekend, I received an encouraging newsletter from my friend and fellow solopreneur Stephen Lahey.

He said “No” (and I hadn’t even asked him a question!)

Here’s what Steve wrote:

Lahey No

What Steve is doing is practicing businesss clarity – by having a very clear understanding of what the “Yes” of his business is, he has the conviction to know when and where to say “No.”

I’ve done a lot of things in my work over the years that seemed very appealing at the time. But it turns out that many fine-sounding opportunities really don’t move the needle on actual business. Seeking generalized recognition from a generalized audience cannot compare to cultivating your specific clientele (note: this principle should absolutely inform how, and how much, you get engaged in social media).

Being clear about your “Yes” opportunities makes it easier to say “No” to distractions.

Business Clarity

When I advise businesses about their specific strategy, one of the most important things we discuss is what to say “No” to. Sometimes it’s an existing offering, or even an existing client. Not all business is good business. This readiness to turn down distractions only comes, however, when there is a well-thought-out “Yes!” on the table.

Get your Yes in order – your Yes offering, your Yes clientele, your Yes approach. That will inform your marketing and your messaging – and your “No”!

Have you said “No” to some tempting business opportunity that was likely to be a distraction? What consideration made you actually close the door?


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  1. Thanks for sharing this Steve – much appreciated!

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