Guest Post by Shakirah Dawud

There’s a lot of advice for small business owners to learn to say no. To prioritize our workloads, to avoid hastily jumping into activities without a plan for gain.

It’s hard to follow that advice, especially when we most need it. And when launching a business – swamped with to-dos, events, and life – we always need it.

As we grow, we set patterns: busy periods and way-too-much-time-for-Twitter periods, and rinse-and-repeat activities that build and cement our business and relationships.

And then, we start to get restless. Everything is under control, but not yet quite the way we’d like it.

We consider and then begin rearranging our schedules, eliminating the unnecessaries, fine-tuning our processes.

When we’re done, we’re still restless.

What happened? We’ve said all our no’s. It’s time to start saying yes.

I honestly don’t believe the reason small business owners stay small and struggling is because we’re not saying no often enough. I think it’s because when we’re in the thick of the forest we planted, all we can see are the trees growing around us.

We love each and every one of them, tend them year after year, water them lovingly, but in the end, that forest has the same number of trees we planted years ago. And looking at the same trees for that long – although it’s hard, busy work – starts to give us an itch.

It’s a hint that it’s time to say yes to something new.

Checking out that networking group you’ve heard good things about? Yes.

Sponsoring a local charity to start filling in both your publicity and your warm-fuzzy quota? Yes.

Writing the ebook you’ve never felt you had the time to research properly? Yes. 

Running for office at your favorite professional association? Yes.

Hiring a consultant to help you get to the next level? Yes.

I don’t want to leave you with just an itch, though.

There’s a difference between making a growth-oriented business decision and being impulsive.

Pay attention to the details. Which areas of your business need attention – still, after so much time and so many promises to fix them?

Deciding to do something “different” isn’t going to fix it. Only fixing it will. And it will pay off, too.

Know what you want. Your chosen new venture may be exciting, but will it really benefit your business?

If not, will it benefit you, personally? Will it get in the way of your goals a month from now? A year?

How much time and money are you willing to invest? If you can define those quantities, it will be easier to make a commitment you can control.

Which yes can expand your forest?

Photo credit: Natalia Buckley, courtesy Flickr, CC 2.0.

Shakirah DawudShakirah Dawud is the writer and editor behind Deliberate Ink. Based in Maryland with roots in New York, she’s been crafting effective marketing copy as a writer and polishing many forms of prose as an editor since 2002. Clients in many fun sizes, industries, and locations reach her through the Web.