With all the motivational quotes and encouragement out there it’s a foreign concept to say “No” to any opportunity that presents itself.
I was recently in a position where I had to say “no” to several business opportunities. This was kinda difficult to do at first because on the one hand opportunity knocks, and you’re supposed to answer it… Right?
Not every “opportunity” is going to improve your business, craft, job, or life. In most cases, it is totally the right move to answer an opportunity’s knock with a kind but firm “No thank you.”
I run a small whimsical art business which I started myself and there’s been a lot of learning curves along the way. Networking is the largest part of my ability to drive sales and interest. When you get good at networking a lot of offers and opportunities can come out of it. But not every opportunity is beneficial to your overall aspirations and goals. It may feel initially counterintuitive to turn these “opportunities” down but that’s exactly what you need to be comfortable doing as I’ve recently learned.
Don’t get caught up in the glow of other people’s interest; weigh the pros and cons of the opportunity. Consider its impact on your business to determine if it’s actually a good fit.
When to say “Thanks, but NO THANKS”
If the opportunity presented dismantles what you do it’s not worth perusing. I sell a combination of art, tea, flowers, and books. This combination of products is a big part of what makes my business unique. Diversity in your business and products allows your creativity to shine. If an opportunity only applies to one part of what you do then it will never amount to anything remotely beneficial to your overall professional vision. Once you start allowing opportunities to carve up your business like a buffet it will lead to more isolated opportunities and you’ll end up losing what makes your work special in the first place.
If it puts you in a position where you must front the costs for everything, run for the hills! Not all scams are the traditional setup. “Opportunities” aren’t supposed to break your bank, on the contrary, they’re supposed to enhance your business and propel your reach. Lots of endeavors sound promising until you get to the fine print and discover that to avail of this “opportunity” you’re going to have to first spend a lot of money in unexpected (or previously undisclosed ways.) Doubling your stock, paying for displays, fees, and a babysitter, are some of the hidden elements that can make an opportunity troublesome. I love how these situations are quick to demand things from you without any concrete return-of-investment discussions.
If there are too many restrictions on your craft it’s a headache, not an opportunity. One of the things artists are known for is having a live and let live attitude. Without any form of creative freedom, art will lose its credibility, appeal, and value. Nothing will kill your craft faster than trying to squeeze yourself into someone else’s box. “Opportunities” demanding that you bend or alter to meet their needs is a good way to end up miserable and stifled. It is only a genuine opportunity if it’s a good fit for your work. Don’t cheapen your style and artistic integrity by compromising your way into something that just isn’t “you.” Part of your job as a small business owner is to represent your brand with your products and quality. Your brand isn’t negotiable, know your worth.
If the person is shady, appears dishonest, or disingenuous their “opportunity” is risky. Sometimes a judge of character can tip the scales and really shouldn’t be ignored, especially when doing business! While this can be nuanced it’s important to only avail of opportunities with people that make you feel safe. Here’s a real-life example:
I was approached to be part of a new and exclusive artisan co-op. I found out that the head organizer had misrepresented how much the rent was for the building. They were significantly overcharging all the vendors. Most likely they were going to pocket the excess funds for themselves. This set up wouldn’t have been a problem necessarily except that they had pitched the whole offer under the premise that our monthly fees only went towards the rent. To make matters worse, after I voided my contract with them they continued to sell my items until I came to physically remove my products and then tried to take a percent from the sales.
If it overextends you or your business even the most appealing opportunity needs to be respectfully declined. You can’t do everything, all at once, all by yourself. Regardless of whether it’s a good fit, timing matters. It’s better, in the long run, to grow your business slowly and steadily rather than to spread yourself too thin. Do only, what you can do well. Never under any circumstances push beyond that limit to take part in whatever enticing opportunity is being presented. Natural business growth comes from consistency and this type of gradual foundation of success will provide a comfortable effortless expansion. Trust your business and projects to evolve without overextending your resources. Say “no” if it’s not the right timing for your best chance of success.