The Art of Saying No

There are so many blogs and articles out there offering advice about time management that I sometimes feel people could really just save some time by not reading so many time management blogs. I actually read one recently that was spread over four pages long. Irony is not lost on some.

Don’t get me wrong, any regular readers of my blogs will know that when I’m not tinkering with iPad point of sale systems, I spend an inordinate amount of time talking about time management; there really are few skills that can have as big an impact on your business. Frankly however, most of the advice out there just seems to greatly over-complicate things.

At ShopKeep POS we have merchants who are incredibly busy – running stores while raising children, holding down 9-5 jobs and even, in the case of one Brooklyn-based merchant, serving in the Army in Afghanistan. These inspirational retailers are able to do what they do because they really understand how to make the most of their time – they have learned the art of saying no!

1. No, Nope, Uh-uh, No way, Not going to happen.

First off, it’s amazing how often you think you have flatly rejected a proposal in the most unequivocal terms only for it to come up again the following week. It is too easy to use limp phrases such as ‘I don’t think we’ll be able to’ or ‘I’m not sure that’s going to work’. This languages leaves room for doubt. If you’re not sure, ask for some time to sleep on the decision but once you’re mind is made up, be clear and concise with staff and suppliers.

2. A Whole Bag Full of No

Imagine you start every day with a bag full of cards with the words Yes and No written on them. Every time you hand out a No, you are essentially marshaling your Yes cards (i.e. your time and resources) to keep them free for a more important objective. The Harvard Business Review would call this understanding your ‘opportunity costs’, I just call it knowing when to say no.

3. Knowing When

Is this important or is this just urgent? Is this a one-foot hurdle or a seven-foot hurdle? These are the two general questions I ask myself when I’m booting things off my to-do list.

Everyone claps loudest when you clear the seven-foot hurdle but real progress is down to ‘concentrating on identifying one-foot hurdles that [you can] step over rather than [acquiring] any ability to clear seven-footers.’ (Warren Buffet). Focus on the simple but effective changes you can make that will incrementally improve your business.

It is crucial to distinguish between the urgent, day-to-day needs of your business and the truly important projects that grow your bottom line. A malfunctioning espresso machine is urgent; deciding whether selling espressos is making you any money is important.

In general the art of saying no is about being dedicated to maximizing your limited resources. My tips?

1. Hire well

2. Trust and delegate to those around you

3. Be decisive and clear in your communication

4. Automate business processes via the cloud

5. Focus your efforts where there is a clear, achievable and important objective.

For everything else, just say no!


Contributed by Jason Richelson, CEO and Founder of ShopKeep POS. Still confused or need a POS system that works for your store? Check out ShopKeep POS, an affordable iPad POS that lets you ring up sales, manage inventory, get robust reporting, access data remotely via your smart phone, and more  – all for $49/mo. Give our friendly POS Specialists a call to learn more about how a robust inventory management system can help you grow your business at 800-820-9814.

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