Elton John said that ‘sorry’ seems to be the hardest word, but I disagree. The hardest word in a female entrepreneur’s vocabulary ‘no’! But just what is it about this tiny two letter statement that is just so tricky to get out?

Saying no makes us feel guilty – for letting people down, for not being liked, for causing conflict, for missing out…

At the beginning of your business journey you will say yes to EVERYTHING, for fear of missing out. We’ve all done it, said yes to a styled shoot that didn’t have a strong concept, booked a wedding even though you didn’t really hit it off with the couple, agreed to help out a friend with some extra work even though your diary is already jam-packed with appointments?  We all think the next opportunity is going to be the big one – the one that propels our business forward to the next level.

We all want to fit in, be liked and be accepted by our peers.  We don’t want to come across as uncaring, rude or even risk a relationship by saying no.  When someone asks us to do something we’ll say yes to prevent a conflict, to keep the peace, to make a friend or gain access to a certain peer group or ‘clique’.

The problem with saying yes to everything, with no vetting process, is that you’ll end up doing a hundred things with 1% effort, rather than putting 100% into the one thing that will get you there. And then you really are missing out.

So when that next opportunity lands in your inbox, try these three easy steps:


When that exciting opportunity next lands in your inbox, take some time to think about it properly.  Does it align with your brand values and business goals? And do you realistically have the time to complete the task to the best of your ability?

If time is the issue, then it’s OK to simply say ‘not right now’.  Saying no during wedding season, or when you’re relaunching your website, or have family issues to deal with isn’t saying no forever, but it will buy you some time to work it into your schedule at a later date when you can give it your full attention.


If you look at an opportunity which is really exciting, but an element of it doesn’t quite sit right with you, then it’s perfectly OK to suggest an alternative solution.  Perhaps you’ve been approached by a photographer to work on a styled shoot, but you don’t think the concept quite aligns with your brand aesthetics, or it’s been done a hundred times before. It’s OK to suggest a different way!  Or a bride has come back to you after an initial meeting with a vastly reduced budget on a wedding you REALLY want to do, it’s OK to revise what services you can offer her to fit in the new budget, rather than say no!


If you’ve had time to think, and realised you have neither the time nor the creativity to do things a different way;  now it’s time to put your big girl pants on.   Saying no isn’t a failure. It’s not nasty and you’re not letting anyone down.  You’re simply protecting your business goals and time.

By saying no you’ll not only feel empowered, and in control of your own workload and time, you’ll also gain the respect of others who can see your considered approach to business.  They will also start to vet the opportunities they pass your way, tailoring requests to suit your business goals, so you are more likely to say yes!