As a business owner, you probably have a lot of people who want your time and attention.
- Your employees and/or contractors need direction and advice.
- Clients want you to provide your product or service.
- Prospects want information about your products or services.
The problem is you only have so much time in the day. When you have too many demands on your time, stress ensues. It's extremely easy to spread yourself too thin and make your life miserable.
Just Say No
One key to retaining your sanity is to exercise your right to say no. Here's a case in point straight from my email box. I had to say no to an unreasonable demand on my time.
When you sign up for my free e-courses on Computor Companion or the Book Consultant, you receive an email from me that asks what your biggest stuck spot or frustration is with your business or your book.
Obviously, this email is part of an autoresponder sequence. I'm not writing an individual personalized message to everyone who signs up. However, the email encourages people to reply and let me know their stuck spot.
Those who do take the time to reply get a personal response from me. Many people have loved my replies and told me that the resources and information I provided helped them move forward.
The other day, a person replied and basically said he was too busy to write me an email. He wanted me to call him instead.
I replied and said that I try to restrict my phone time to my (paid) consulting clients.
In other words, I said no.
He then sent me a diatribe that accused me of being insincere and implied that my business would fail because I am unwilling to devote my time to providing free consultations via phone. He pointed out that many businesses fail in the first year, which is true. (What he didn't seem to know is that my business has been around for 16 years now.)
Consider the Costs
Here's the real issue. Phone time is expensive for me. Providing free advice via email is fast and can happen on my timetable, whereas a phone call frequently turns into a gigantic time sink. Time is money, and agreeing to talk to potentially every person who sign up for my free autoresponder simply costs too much.
With the autoresponder, I am offering free support and trying to help people who might need my services down the road. The fact that I don't offer that help via phone doesn't make it any less valid. (A point that Diatribe Dude completely missed.)
The reality is that I have a tiny business and I simply can't afford to give away hours of my time on the phone. If I did, I'd never get any work done for my actual paying clients.
My first priority always has to be to the people who pay me money. (And as I pointed out to Diatribe Dude, if he were my client, he'd want that to be my priority as well!)
As a business owner, you need to set boundaries and consider your bottom line when you are making decisions. If you have ever wondered why many small software companies offer free email support and not free phone support, it's because phone support costs more.
You need to consider what is best for your business and for you. I'm a fast typist and writer, so sending and receiving emails is quick and easy for me. For people who can't touch type, email support like this may be too expensive too.
We business owners are bombarded with advice on what we "should" do. But there is no one size fits all. You always need to take your own skills and situation into account
Also consider this fantastic quote from Maya Angelou: "The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them."
People who start off a potential business relationship by making unreasonable demands on your time and sending emails like the one I got from Diatribe Dude are not people you want to deal with anyway.
Not everyone is destined to become your customer. There's no law that says every person you meet has to be a client. Be choosy and have faith that good customers are out there.
When you say no to someone like Diatribe Dude, you are leaving space in your schedule for one of those good clients to come your way.
Like I said, you only have so much time in your life. Respect yourself and learn to say no. Don't waste your valuable time on people who don't deserve it.
Susan Daffron is the Editor of Computor Companion (read more about Susan)