What would you say is your most valuable asset? Is it money? Notoriety? Your home, or car? I want to argue that everyone’s most valuable asset is time. You have all heard the saying time is money, and it really is true: If you had more time you could make more money, then in turn you could do more of the things you love. People will pay ridiculous amounts of money to get more time. We use a computer and a phone because it saves us time. We drive a car because it saves us time. If you can offer people something that “buys” them more time, you have an unlimited market.
So the big question is how do you “buy” more time? One way that I found is by learning to say no. You need to stop wasting time on things that are bringing little to no value into your life. Now I know that might sound selfish. I’m not advocating only doing things for yourself, because I am a huge believer in giving away value. However, your time is the thing that you have which is most valuable so you need to be smart about it and protect it.
When I first started my business I was willing to take on any and all clients. Starting from scratch is extremely difficult so anyone that was willing to work with me was a great client. Over the years I have realized that it is okay to say no to certain clients for various reasons.
One big advantage of saying no is the concept of exclusivity. Let me explain. Let’s say there are two country clubs you’re looking to join, both similar in price. One country club accepts everyone that can pay the fees and the other country club is exclusive. The exclusive club is extremely hard to get into. Both clubs could be exactly the same but if you were able to get into the more exclusive one, I guarantee that’s the one you would join. So why is that the case? There is something in all of our brains that tells us that when we can’t do or have something, then that’s the thing we yearn most strongly for.
This psychology and mindset can be applied to your business. It can look different for every business. Some are going to be much more exclusive and selective on the clients that they work with. I know it sounds backwards but I promise you, if you learn to say no, people will want to work with you that much more.
A few years ago our business was just like every other tax and accounting firm, taking on almost any client that we could get. Because of the principle I discussed above, we decided to change our model to something that most other firms weren’t offering: outsourced controller solutions. This obviously limits us to the type of clients that we will work with but it has been the best business decision we’ve made since we started the company.
I would encourage you to think about ways that you can start to say no. This can be in your personal life or your business life. Either way it’s time to start saying no and buying back your most valuable asset.