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Problems With Solutions
I Just Can't Say "No"
Jan 9, 2003, 02:17

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"I am one of those people that just can't say "no", but I find it is getting me in a bit of trouble. People have gotten so used to me doing things for them that my business is really suffering due to a lack of paying customers. How can I gently tell family and friends that I need to charge for my time and services?"

Answers from our readers:

I would suggest that you explain to your family and friends that you run a business and you have to treat it as such. I also have friends and family that use my products and I do give them a discount, but I wouldn't be as successful as I am if I was offering my services and products for free. I
have to pay for these items and can't afford to give them away. Another thing you might consider is offering a free product to them for giving you a paying client/customer. My mother has referred me to her co-workers and since I have
gotten new paying customers through her, then I can treat my mom to a free gift. I know it's hard, but you have to keep telling yourself...this is a business!! They don't expect to get a free meal at a restaurant, so they shouldn't expect free items from you.

Kimber Attaway - BeautiControl Independent Consultant
Certified Image Consultant - Unit VIP

Probably the best answer is "I won't be able to do that for you." You do not need to say "sorry" or give any explanation. A simple no, I can't do that for you is sufficient. At a later time, when you are comfortable saying "no", you may want to comment about the improvement in your business now that you are devoting more time to it. Still, you are not apologizing or re-opening the door for free work.

Many of us have a difficult time saying no to anything we are capable of doing. This just gives away or devalues our time and talent. I was a slow learner when it came to valuing myself but now it feels much better than feeling used and abused at times.?

Ellen Rittenhouse, Owner
Rittenhouse Industries

I always choose to be upfront and honest with my friends and family. I tell them truthfully that I have a family to support just as they do and the time I expend on "helping them out" depletes the time I have to generate an income. If they have something they want to barter for my services, I'm
willing to listen, but it has to be something that benefits my whole family. Most people are respectful of the fact that I am upfront with them and understand that my financial well being is dependent on how I budget my time as well as my money.

Linda A. Bradley , Designer - Wildwind Designs

I have a health and nutrition company, and because of people (including family and friends) getting product and either not paying or paying late, I didn't have enough money at times to pay the bills. So, my partner and I talked about it and decided I would send a letter out to everyone on mymail list. The letter was very warm and friendly, tellingeach one how much I appreciated their business. Then I went on to say because of some people not being diligent with payment it was creating a financial strain on the business. Therefore, effective at the time of the letter my company business policy was that no product would be released without prior payment. After that, when I had calls or e-mails for orders, I was able to say, "and how do you want to pay for that?". I understand the circumstances are a bit different for you because your time is involved, but I would think it is all relative. Hope this helps.

Suzanne Cardwell, Owner - The Nutrition Mission

This can not only be a time waster, but really impact the
profitability of your business, so it is something you must get a handle on ASAP.

Unfortunately, if you have a reputation for never saying no, people are not showing the proper respect for your business. Just because you are working from home, it doesn't mean you are not working. A lot of work-from-home moms have the problem with friends wanting to drop their children off for "a little bit". Would they ask their friend that worked in a corporate office to do that? Of course not!

If this is the case, you must just gently tell people that you only work your business during certain hours and it is
difficult to concentrate and/or be on the phone with clients with lots of children in the background.

Now, if they are asking you to do things for them that you
normally charge for, you need to stop this immediately! If
you are concerned about them being mad at you say, "I
recently visited my accountant and he/she told me that I
have to take my business more seriously, by not giving away
my services." You can offer them a discount, or something
free based on the number of referrals they give you.

Look at it this way: If you had a girlfriend who was a hair
stylist, would you expect to just go over to her house and
have her cut your hair for free?

You can tell people now in a nice way. Always give an
explanation. And...stick to your guns!

Debbi Bressler, Home Business Consultant - Diversified Income Group

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