I’ve previously written about the importance of NO and how it’s one of the most important productivity and business tools you have.

There is a bit more to it than I talked about before if we look at your YES or at least what your YES should be.

Looking at your YES

First we need to look at what your YES can mean, because it’s more than just a word.

  1. Yes I’ll do the work because I need the money. We all have bills to pay right?
  2. Yes I’ll do the work because I think your project will make me look better.
  3. Yes I’ll do the project because I think it’s really interesting. I can’t think of another project I’d rather be doing right now.

When you’re starting you may need to say YES for reason 1. You simply have bills to pay and you need food to eat.

As you establish yourself you’re probably going to say YES for reason 2. You need projects that look awesome in your portfolio. Then it’s more likely that other awesome projects will come along.

The work you really should be doing should end up falling in to the 3rd reason for YES.

You say YES to the work because you’re so interested in the work that the money and prestige don’t even really enter into the equation.

You say YES to the work because you really can’t think of anything better to do for work.

Clients want YES #3 as well

It may seem counter intuitive to clients to think that they want you to be saying for YES #3. In that situation you don’t need the money. You don’t need the prestige of the project.

So the client really enters in to the relationship hoping you’re willing to work on the project. You are interviewing the clients to see if you want to work with them.

Most clients start out from the position of ‘power’ as they see it. They have the money to spend and they ‘may’ choose you to spend it with.

If you’re in a position to say YES for reason 3, then that ‘power’ evaporates.

But like I said, that is what clients really want.

As a client, do you want someone building your online presence simply because they have bills to pay?

Do you want them to work on your project simply because it will look good in their portfolio?

Is a consultant really invested in your project if they’re doing it for money or prestige?

Not really, and you’re likely not going to get their best work. Sure it may be ‘good’ work but it’s not the work of someone that is truly invested in your vision and wants to work on it because they believe in the project and what you’re doing.

Position yourself for YES

So how do you position yourself to be saying YES for the right reason?

You need to price properly, and I wrote about pricing and my friend Chris Lema wrote a book on pricing. If you want to get more then sign up for my email list and get 5 pricing resources that I think are awesome.

You also need to specialize in something specific. Become a go to person for WP eCommerce like my friend Justin or a Genesis expert like my friend Carrie, or be known as the guy to go to for product and business advice like my friend Chris.

Don’t just be another face in the crowd. Pick something and stand out for it.

Finally, save money people. If you make 20k a month and spend all of it you’re still going to be saying YES for reason one. You simply need money because you spend it. If you’re not familiar with budgeting then read The Total Money Makeover, then read EntreLeadership.

There is also a great series of posts on this site on budgeting.

Don’t just think that everything will always go smoothly. Plan ahead and make sure that when things end up a bit rough, you have the cash around so it doesn’t matter.

When it comes right down to it, if you can’t say NO to work then you really can’t say yes either.

What you’re saying YES to is not the project, but the money. I know I don’t do my best work just for money and studies have proven that most people don’t do awesome work just for money. There has to be more.

Make sure you use NO and make sure that you take the time to position your business so that you can truly say YES to the projects that bring out the best in you.

photo credit: ansik cc

4 responses to “When you say YES to work what does it really mean”

  1. Jonny Blank Avatar
    Jonny Blank

    Super post. Flows nicely into the ongoing client-developer relationship, that which arises from a healthy and successful development stage. For example, I view my work with you as an ongoing project — from developing MVPs, testing them, refining them, and (hopefully) bringing one to national or international success. You will be there because of our heathy working relationship. It’s more than independent contractor, it’s teammates — in my business and in your business.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      The work I most enjoy long term is continued work with clients over a long time.

      The relationship is built on lots of trust so we both assume that the other person is trying to be awesome out of the gate.

      That learned assumption (and experience to back it up) makes work/life go way smoother.

  2. Theron Avatar

    Hey Chris, good article and good points. What are you specializing in these days? Also, I’m going to be at wc van. See you there.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      I specialize in WordPress eCommerce and Membership sites (see http://sfndesign.ca). I do end up taking work that’s not quite in that speciality though it’s usually pretty close.

      And it’s always interesting.

      What about yourself, where is your specialty?