Yesterday, I passed on a speaking engagement after being told about the size and scope of the great event that people pay to attend and then when I asked what their speaker budget was I was told, "We don't pay our speakers because we've found we get the same quality from people we pay or don't pay."
I politely declined the invitation.
Saying no is not easy for me because it is in my DNA not to disappoint people, but I've come to realize that business is business and saying no is a critical part of that. If people want to work with me, they need to value me.
This doesn't mean I don't speak unless you pay me. Each time I take the stage there is a different arrangement in place. But, in each of them I know that the organizers value me and my time and that is why I do it.
The same goes for consulting.
Over the years I've worked on a ton of campaigns. Some have won awards and others are still talked about to this day. I've learned a lot along the way and that experience is not something I can't just hand over to you or give you in a simple sound bite. As Tom Webster loves to say, "you have to do the work."
Is it fair for one company to pick my brain for free and then another pay a lot of money for my help? I love helping people out and sharing advice, but when it comes to developing a strategy, creating an engaging marketing campaign or something more than there has to be value in it for me as well as you.
Remember that every thing you say yes to takes away from something else. If I'm on the road, I'm missing my family. If I accept a speaking engagement with one event, I can't accept a second one during the same time slot. For every hour I spend on a writing assignment, it takes away from me writing my next book.
Opportunity costs are sometimes more valuable than actual money. It is a constant balancing act. Likewise, this isn't about saying no to everything that doesn't pay you money. There are lot more ways to "pay" for something beyond just straight up payment.
I've always used the Hell Yeah! test when making a decision and it works for a lot of people. Try using that the next time you are debating if you should say yes or no to an offer. It usually serves me well.
If we don't value ourselves, than no one else is ever going to. That is a fact of life that took me a long time to realize and honestly it is something I have to remind myself of quite often because of that nice guy thing I often don't.
Saying no is one of the hardest things for a lot of us to say. When you really stop and think about that it is rather strange isn't it? But, I know it is also the truth.
Everyone's time is valuable. The knowledge in each of our heads is unique and valuable. Don't ever be afraid to say no.