Every Time You Say Yes, You Say No to Something Else

I recently went to an Incubator/master class hosted by Jason Blumer and Thriveal. The focus was on fostering the creation of entrepreneurial, creative accounting firm owners, and it was awesome! One of the most impactful business strategy principles that Jason spoke about was “Every time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else.” This seems obvious but it is often forgotten when decisions are made.

So let’s unpack this a bit…When faced with a business decision, it’s typical to weigh the pros and cons and do the mental math for the outcome. You decide what you can live with, or what you can’t live without, and you move forward. Right?! But is that all you should consider? What are you leaving on the table? What are you not able to have or do by committing to that decision? What are you losing? In other words, do you want what that decision will mean for you and your firm?

Let me say that again. Do you want what that means?

I’ll give you an example – one that many startups face, and something I speak with founders about quite a bit. Should you hire someone to help your business grow? That’s a pretty big decision, and business owners almost always consider the financial impact of that decision first. They want to know if they can afford it and still make money. You can do financial forecasts and estimate the return on investment (ROI) if you hire that person. That is important work, and it must be done. The thing is, the ROI isn’t always financial gain. Sometimes the return you want is a better work/life balance. Sometimes you just need some sanity, sleep and time to care for yourself, and that’s worth the financial investment. It might even save your marriage! Sometimes the ROI is that you will be able to focus on a different part of the business, while someone else does the production work. It may not give you a huge net gain on the bottom line initially, but it might make you happier, and better able to drive growth in the long run.

So let’s say you decide that you can afford it, and the ROI is acceptable, so you post the job description and start the process. Not so fast! What are you saying no to, and what does that mean? It means that you are no longer just a business owner – you are now an employer. You have to register for state withholding and unemployment insurance. You have to consider benefits and if the retirement accounts you have set up for yourself are now also required to be available to your employees. You have to take the time to train that person to do things the way you would do them. And you have to take a huge leap of faith to trust that that person will represent you and your company well. You also have to realize that now you aren’t just managing clients, but you have to manage your employee(s) too – and those employees will now rely on you and the money your pay them to pay their bills. It’s not a small responsibility!

Maybe now you’re on the fence because you don’t know if you’re ready to sign up for all of that just yet. So let’s consider the flip side. As a business owner and the sole production employee, your growth is finite. That’s a fact. There are only so many hours in the day, and you can only do so much by yourself. So if you say yes to remaining a solopreneur, you are saying no to some level of growth. If you’re ok with that, and you don’t want what growth will bring, then you might decide to stay on your own, and continue doing what you love by yourself. If you have visions of building an empire and hitting higher sales goals, then you will have to accept what being an employer means.

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. You have to determine what the right answer is for you based on what you gain, what you give up, and what that really means for you and your business. We work through issues like this (and others like debt/financing, pricing, products/services offering, etc) during our business strategy sessions with clients. If you’d like to learn more, contact us today!

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One Response

  1. Pamela you hit the nail on the head! You really do have to no to something when you say yes to something else. I love the fact that you talked about hiring as I have been struggling with this decision for a long time. You sure gave me a lot to think about. Thanks for your words of wisdom!

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