When to Say ‘No’ to a Business Opportunity

When you are just starting out in a new position, or just starting to grow your company, the incentive is to simply get things done. At times it can seem like you are making no progress, that no matter what you try your efforts are having little impact. That is a time when you will take any win you can get, and if someone offers you an opportunity, you will jump on it.

But what if you’re not in a situation like that? What if your business is growing? What if you have a lot of projects already, and they’re working? That’s when it becomes important to learn when to say ‘no’.

What types of business opportunities are we talking about?

  • Maybe a partner proposes a joint venture with a surefire new revenue stream
  • Maybe an agency proposes a new campaign that will put your brand in front of a whole new audience
  • Maybe your team has come up with an idea for a new version of the product you already offer

The opportunities are varied, but they share one thing – they all cost money and time to develop and manage. And while it may seem like a no-brainer to say ‘yes’ when the potential revenue from the new opportunity is staring you in the face, what we are talking about is diverting attention away from existing activities to do something new. So you must have a minimum reward threshold that you measure the opportunity against.

Each business or person will have their own minimum reward threshold, which will depend on the size of the business and current growth projections.

For example, if you are managing a brand that is bringing in $1 million in revenue per year, $100,000 opportunity looks pretty good. That’s 10% growth. But if you’re managing a brand brining in $10 million, all the sudden that same opportunity might look a little puny (1% growth).

Because most of us are already stretched thin as it is, adding new tasks for such a small opportunity might not be the best use of our time. So we need to say ‘no’.

Saying ‘no’ is hard. It can feel like you are turning down free money. But we must take on a different mindset to make the habit stick. What you are really saying when you say ‘no’ to an opportunity that does not meet your threshold is this – My business is worth more than that, so I’m going to hold out for something better.