Design Your Business So You Can Say "No" To People

I work with women who have pretty dynamic lives and most of them decided to go into business for themselves because, (a) they're passionate about bringing about some sort of change in the world, (b) they want more control of their time and their “yes,” and (c) they want the opportunity to make more money.

All of these things are extremely important because as we all know, women’s time is very sparse due to us carrying most of the unpaid labor load, and our money is short because of the gender pay gap that has been plaguing us for decades. When women enter into the online business space, they are often so blissful about their future possibilities and the impact they can create, that they become “yes” machines.

Yes, I can collaborate with you.

Yes, I can extend your 1:1 session time by 30 minutes even though you only paid for 60 minutes.

Yes, I can accept a different payment arrangement other than one clearly stated on my website.

Yes, I can reschedule your session again for the 50x.

We keep yes-ing all over ourselves.

And why do we do this?

Well, the short answer is patriarchy. Yeah, you read that right - patriarchy. You know patriarchy, the sociopolitical and cultural system that values masculinity over femininity. Basically, we have been conditioned to giving it all away in order to just keep up. Now, this isn’t an always thing, there are times we do want to go above and beyond and be super accommodating, and this is lovely. The issue becomes problematic when it begins to force us into compromising, settling, and tolerating people, places, or things that aren’t in alignment with our highest joy.

Yes, your highest joy is essential in your business.

Most women who enter into the online business arena are boot-strapping their way to freedom. There aren’t any angel investors waiting in the wings, they don’t start out with an assistant helping them to do all the things, they are their own teachers and are teaching themselves how to market their business and make money --- and all of this is extremely scary. But even inside the fear, we need to remember we are more important than our business. 

Our wants, needs, dreams, and personal goals need to be included in the design of our business, so we don’t burn out and over give from a cup that probably isn’t yet full. I know this is easier said than done, but we must keep working on it so we don’t get swallowed by our businesses and people.

Here are small things you can do inside your business that will empower your “no”:

Button Up Your Client Agreements + Policies: Listen, the old adage “if you give people an inch they will take a mile” still holds mass amounts of truth. People will try to get away with all the things if you let them...so don’t. Make sure everyone you work with knows your refund, rescheduling, and cancellation policy in no uncertain terms. 

Set Realistic Expectations for Email Correspondance: Some people seem to think if they email you that they deserve a response within a couple of hours - wrong! Put an automatic email response in place that lets people know what you’re response time will be.

Limit Your Offerings: It’s tempting to create a bunch of different ways for people to work with you, but all that does is dilute your potency. Have only a few ways people can access you (that you love), so you’re not being pulled in a million directions.

This short list above is just a start. There are a number of different ways to design your business with your “no” in mind - start thinking about that today, so you don’t regret it tomorrow.

Toi Smith

Hey There, I'm Toi!

I write about women + business through an intersectional feminist lens.
When I'm not writing I am mothering, learning, and loving.
If you're interested in buttoning up your business and making more money,
I help women-identified humans do that too.

Click here to find out more.