In college, a professor once told me, “Saying yes to everything means that you’re saying no to something else because you don’t have the time to do it.”
A while back, I quit a job because it made no money. I worked as a barista to bring in some extra income. I didn’t want to take the job, but honestly I felt the pressure to survive and my photography business hadn’t taken off yet. So, I took it. It paid too little and I had to quit. It was a dumb move to take the job in the first place, but I needed something and I had high hopes that I’d get a raise.
Anyway, I quit right as my photography business was starting to take on some steam. Things were going great at first… Then work slowed down. So, I started trying to get creative to bring in some extra business. At a random chance meeting, a local business owner was telling me about his struggle to maintain a presence in social media as well as getting high quality photos of his clients. My ears immediately perked up. After asking a few questions I offered up some help. I told him that I was a bit of a social bug and a photographer and he was thrilled to set up a meeting with me.
I was excited. ”Look at me,” I thought, “I’m so clever. I can make lemonade out of lemons. I’m a real Guerrilla marketer.”
If I market well, do I get free bananas?
When we finally met, I went over what we had talked about, but then suddenly I was asked if I had experience with web design. I told him that I had some but I wasn’t able to create anything. He insisted that I do some minor tweaks to his site. I didn’t want to, but I’m a giant push over with the inability to say no. So, I agreed. That turned into major tweaks, redesigning whole pages of the website, filling out spread sheets, making a video, working on creating logos and signs, and basically being completely in charge of the financial stability of his store.
What had started as a small offer to help out, turned into me running the show. Not only that, but I felt so much pressure to make everything perfect and have immediate results. We had agreed that I would be paid hourly and when I spent hours and hours getting everything running and presented him with an invoice, he was upset because he didn’t see a lot of results and he didn’t want to pay for something that wasn’t making him any business.
This was a disaster. Not only had I wasted my time, was not getting paid, but I was also doing a ton of work that I wasn’t qualified to do nor did I want to! I didn’t even take one picture which was my entire goal in the first place! I hadn’t set up any guidelines and when I was asked in the beginning if I could do something that I wasn’t good at, I didn’t say no.
The worst part of all of this? It was all my fault. I had to pay a stupid tax. If I had been clear from the beginning about what I was willing to do and what I could do well this would have never happened. And why did I do this? Because I needed to survive. The problem was, I needed money and when you need money you tend to take jobs that you would never take.
If I could go back, I would have just been honest. I would have been tough. I would have said no in the beginning and saved myself tons of stress.
Say no. It means saying yes to what you actually want to do.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/ucumari/5980792927/”>ucumari</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>