Want To Get Ahead? Say “No” More Often

Rusty Old Weighing Scales

To achieve great things, we need to create great opportunities. But we also need to know when to turn them down. The decision to say “no” to someone is hard to make, and saying it is harder still. So how we do we arrive at that decision?

I believe that one great project is worth more than ten mediocre ones. At Harkable, the creative digital agency I run, we want to be the best agency in the world, not the biggest.

But we’re brought up to be ‘yes’ people. Saying “yes” feels better than saying “no”, regardless of its actual impact. For anyone self-employed, acquiring opportunities as prolifically and quickly as possible is the main goal. It is against everything in our bones to then turn down work that comes in. It feels like finding money on the street and throwing it back down the drain. But taking the wrong work can have all sorts of negative impacts on you and your business. You can become unprofitable and stressed very quickly.

The Three Fs Test

Our innate tendency to say “yes” is further compounded by our emotions. You might get on well with the person offering you the opportunity. You may love the brand’s products you’re asked to promote. But is it really worth doing? This is where the well-used Three Fs Test comes in.

This test works for everyone from actors to personal trainers. Designers to global ad agencies. It’s so when you receive an offer of work, you can divine whether your response should be a “yes” or a “no”.

Each ‘F’ represents the essence of why we do what we do. How many of these boxes you must tick is up to you but make a rule and stick to it. I would suggest you demand that any project ticks two of these at least.

  • Fame — means work that gets you noticed, garners respect and is likely to get talked about. It’s important because recognition attracts opportunities. People will want to work for you and with you. It also brings the satisfaction of your work being appreciated by others, which is highly motivational.
  • Fun — do you remember why you got into your industry and not into something ‘boring’? You need to stay connected to that, and get excited about doing the work this next project entails. Imagine what each phase of the project is and ask yourself if you’d do all that, even if there was no money in it. That’s how you know it’s truly fun.
  • Fortune — will this project bring money which does more than just sustain you? Will it bring extra profit you could spend on growth or improvement? In other words, look at where that money gets you, beyond covering your bills. If nowhere, it’s not a fortune project. Yet if it would bring extra funds for new equipment or a personal treat such as a holiday, it’s a fortune project.

So go forth, win the best clients you can to make you happy, wealthy and respected. You’ll be able to look back on a career of quality work and challenges conquered. Great people you met and worked with who appreciated your efforts. And most important of all, a proud sense of having made a valuable contribution to the world in your unique way.

Want to learn new creative and marketing skills with me? Check out upcoming courses on topics like SEO, content marketing, copywriting and podcasting.

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