One the most common errors businesses make is attempting to be all to everyone and winding up being nothing to anyone.

Let me give you an example. My career includes 15 years in the tax accounting industry, both on an employed and self-employed basis, with small accounting firms and large accounting firms. One of the dynamics I noticed in the tax accounting industry was the inability to say ‘no’. In my observations accountants would take on all sorts of assignments and promises outside of their usual day to day operations. The result – poor service and broken promises. It’s challenging enough being a full time tax accountant let alone being great at anything else.

Now I may appear to be picking on accountants. Well, yes I am! I make no apologies for that. In my view the industry as a whole needs to sharpen their pencils, so to speak.

But this problem is not restricted to the accounting industry. It is common place amongst small and medium businesses.

By not having the courage to say no on a regular basis, the way in which the core product or service is delivered suffers because of the endless distractions. Nobody wins.

What you don’t do is as important as what you do! In fact, I believe what you say no to is more important than what you say yes to.

Get clear on your core deliverables. Build your operations so that your service levels are first class. You will stand out from your competitors by doing this.

The other opportunity here is that when a request is made of you that is outside of your core service, build relationships with complementary businesses who can provide those products or services. You can refer work their way and they can refer work your way.

Referrals are the most effective way of attracting new business. Build a network of ‘affiliate partners’ where you all refer to each other. This opens up the respective customer bases of each business to each other business in the network, supercharging your lead generation.

The best decision I ever made was to sell my accounting business so I could concentrate on doing what I do now. It took some courage to let go of what I knew, but it put the fun back into being in business and took the stresses of being all to everyone away (but I did not get my hair back!).

What are you going to start saying no to?

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