Small Business Blog: How To Say No

Sometimes you have to do it. Even if you don’t want to, your business runs more smoothly when you do.  And you benefit from peace-of-mind and a sense of relief when you do it.

What am I talking about?

Telling your customers no.

It’s hard to say no to paying customers as a business owner. Especially when we’re told no all day long from vendors, laws and even our own families.

“We can’t send you this product in 3 days.”

“You cannot pay less in taxes.”

“You can’t drive 50 mph in a 30 mph zone (without paying for it).”

“We will not replace your broken cell phone before your contract is due.”

“I will not make my bed today, Mom.”

We want to be able to say yes to our clients. We’re all too familiar with what it feels like to be told no (count how many no messages you are exposed to in a day. I bet you’ll be surprised). Saying yes doesn’t always make sense in our business, though.

Recently I was a guest at Embassy Suites and they do a great job of telling their customers no, without angering them. Not an easy feat!

In the bathroom was a sign that read “Please don’t take bath towels down to the pool (the pool towels get jealous).”


I laughed and of course followed their instructions rather than questioning it. The tone of the message lightened the blow of their ‘no’.

Embassy Suites launched a new tv campaign that fits this irreverent tongue-in-cheek tone. I like it. It’s consistent with their brand. It’s different.

And it’s a great reminder for small business owners that it’s all in how you say it, not what you say.

How do you say no creatively to keep from angering your clients? Take a lesson from the teachings of Embassy Suites and get creative. Your answer doesn’t have to be logical or technical. It can be fun! Your customers may not love it, but at least they’ll smile.

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Working photographer, coach, mama, and wife. Whether you’re looking to take your photography business full-time or simply make good money on a very part-time basis so you can contribute to your family financially and be your best self, we’ve got something for you.

I’m Sarah Petty

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