The Power Of Saying “No”
Even if an opportunity sounds promising, sometimes turning it down could be the best business decision you make. If you are fortunate enough to be successful, people and companies will want to do business with you. That can be a good thing. It can also lead you down a path that could bring your practice or your personal lifestyle to its knees. There are times in your life when saying “no” to an opportunity is the best decision. Unfortunately, improper planning, poor focus, and the fear of losing out on a potential windfall can override your initial decision and that’s when you get into trouble.
If the foundation for your own practice or your life isn’t solid, why in the world would you take on one more opportunity? Here are five scenarios when you are better off saying “no” and staying on your own path:
1. The opportunity doesn’t get you closer to your GOALS.
I’m a big proponent of having a plan with specific, measurable GOALS. A good plan can help you separate opportunities from wild goose chases. When someone comes to you with a “can’t miss” idea, stress test it against your plan. If you have no plan this is a good time to develop one. The opportunity may get your partner closer to his or her GOAL, but will it help you get closer to YOUR GOAL. Remember, potential partners will have different agendas.
2. Your own house isn’t in order.
This is the easiest reason for you to say “no” to someone. If the foundation for your own practice isn’t solid, why in the world would you take on one more opportunity? All you’re doing is speeding up the eventual collapse of your practice. If, after an honest assessment, you believe that you’re not ready to take on a new challenge, simply say “no.” Focus your efforts on getting your foundation set before you start adding to it.
3. The opportunity siphons off valuable resources from your own projects or programs.
As a business owner, you understand the term “finite resources” better than most people. You have a finite amount of money, time, and human capital to help you achieve your GOALS and take your practice to the next level. If you give a new opportunity access to these resources, can you still achieve your original GOALS?
4. You have the wrong partner.
Partnerships are never 50/50. Invariably, one partner gets stuck doing the majority of the work without receiving the same percentage in compensation. Another obstacle is when you realize that the partner you chose (or the partner who chose you), doesn’t have the requirements, education or resources to live up to their end of the agreement. It’s a disaster when you realize that your “complementary” partner really oversold their ability to treat your patients properly.
Before he/she or you sign on the dotted line, make sure that expectations are clearly understood and you’ve done your homework on determining whether or not you have the right dance partner. Some partnerships are like marriages. Make sure yours doesn’t end in a messy divorce.
5. The opportunity doesn’t align with your core offerings.
Do you remember playing a picture game as a child called “Which One Doesn’t Belong?” A picture would have four or five objects in it and you would have to determine which object wasn’t the same as the other ones. The small-business version of this game is similar to the one we played as children. For example, think of a dentist pitching financial advice to you or a lawyer trying to sell you siding for your home. It just doesn’t make sense. If a new partnership mainly causes confusion among your current patients, then you better re-check the upside potential as well as the downside risks. As legendary investor Peter Lynch wrote in his book, ‘One Up On Wall Street’, diversification is “diworsification.”
As long as your practice continues to be successful and grow, people will pitch you on their programs.
Use the five simple rules below when evaluating opportunities and you will greatly reduce your exposure to bad deals:
1. Be selective. When in doubt, say “no”!
2. Don’t over-commit your resources.
3. Only put in what you can afford to lose.
4. Have a “go/no go” point. Pick a date between the time you first heard about the opportunity and when you need to commit finances, resources or sign an agreement. If you don’t have sufficient answers to your questions about the opportunity or if you’re not sure it will be successful, say “no” to it.
5. If you do commit, be in it to win it.