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Why Being a Yes-Man is Killing Your Business {And Your Spirit}

We’ve likely all found ourselves being crushed under the weight of work-week overload, dealing with a client that makes us feel like a punching bag or eating the pistachios we found buried in our center console along with a packet of ketchup because taking time for lunch is a joke (*insert maniac laughter*). The truth is, business growth can be a painful process and while pressing our boundaries and putting in twelve hours days is part of that growth, many business owners struggle to draw the line in the sand between “expansion” and “burn out”. You know, the point at which we find ourselves saying things like, “F*ck it! I’m throwing my cell phone into a sink hole and going off the grid!”. Before you pack a crate of whiskey, your dog and your last cares about civilization into your car and head into the great unknown, try evaluating your levels of “yes man” syndrome and following these tips for avoiding catastrophic overwhelm in your business. (Because we’d like to keep you as a contributing member to this great thing we call entrepreneurship).



Self-awareness is a pretty cool tool that can actually work wonders, so try a little in your business world. Figure out at what capacity of clientele you feel comfortable, pressed and overrun. If you feel comfortable, add more to your plate. If you feel pressed, you’re probably where you should be. If you feel overrun, nobody is winning in that scenario. Understanding what you can reasonably handle means getting real with the numbers (“How many clients can I successfully service at once?”, “How many appointments can I set in a day/week before I start speaking a hybrid language of regular and baby talk because I’m so exhausted?” “How many chucks could a woodchuck chuck?” know, whatever applies to your business). Once you have a number in mind, figure out if that number equals your ideal salary. If it doesn’t, get to work on leveraging some of your responsibilities, automating some processes or doing anything you can to increase your capacity. Resourcefulness to the rescue!

Solutions: Work out a referral system with someone who offers the same high-quality service you do. If you’re at max capacity and don’t want the client’s end-result to suffer because of this (which you don't, that’s just good business), refer it out to someone you trust for a small percentage and have them do the same in the opposite scenario. Make sure you clear any potential work with your referral partner before offering their services up to anyone.

Scripts for Clients: “I’m thrilled that you reached out about __________. Currently, my client load is at maximum capacity and I’m dedicated to only accepting work I can give my full attention and effort to. I’d love to work with you personally so let me know what your timeline is for this project; if it’s sooner than I’m able to take on, I have an amazing colleague I can refer you to. We’ve been working together for ______ years and he/she/they do incredible work.”


Get clear on what you’re willing to do and not willing to do, your hours of operation, your client process and your willingness to extend yourself without wanting to punch a kitten in the face (nobody wants to get to that point). These are all things that should be communicated clearly to potential clients from the beginning. If you don’t safeguard your time and your “burn out” lines, you can rest assured that nobody else is going to do it for you. This includes things like, not taking on something that’s not within your expertise, not accepting calls at 9:30 pm unless you’re willing to set the expectation that 9:30 pm is an okay time to call you, using voicemail and email messages that communicate that you’re at a family reunion/holiday event/weekend away and what they can expect for a response time. Believe it or not, people aren't monsters and are usually more than willing to let you take the weekend with your family or turn your phone off after 8:00 pm. It’s only when you set the expectation that you’re available 24/7 or don’t clearly communicate the process a client can expect to go through when they work with you that tensions will arise.

Solutions: 1. Use voicemail or email messages that let people know when you’re available and when you’re not (automated replies or voicemails that state what hours you return phone calls). 2. Clearly define your client process from start to finish and then create something VISUAL that the client can look at and keep that takes them through the steps, that could be as simple as a written list or you can get fancy with it. 3. In your initial conversation, find out the full scope of the client's needs, if there’s anything on their list that doesn’t fall under your area of expertise, talk about it upfront and offer solutions.

Scripts for Clients:

Communication: “I’m dedicated to showing up as my best self when we work together so I can offer the service you deserve. In order to do that, I reserve the evening hours from _:__ pm on for personal family time. Please let me know if that will be an issue for you in any way and I’m certain we can work something out.”

Client Process: “Here’s a list/graph/diorama of our client process. (Detail the process). Do you have any questions about the steps or what to expect? Is there anything we need to tweak or add to make this a great experience for you?”

Staying Within Your Expertise: “We don’t personally handle ________ as it doesn’t fall under our area of expertise and I want to make sure you’re getting the best possible product/service. Would it be helpful if I sent you a few referrals for someone who could take over that portion of the process for you?"

3) TRY BEING HONEST (*gasp*)

Transparency is a magical, sadly under-utilized business tactic. We seem to all be under the impression that if we’re honest with people, we’ll get horrible backlash and the skies will come crashing down! In reality, the opposite is usually true. Reminding ourselves that we're actually normal humans speaking to other normal humans who also have other things in their lives outside of this moment/conversation/interaction is important. Have a client who wants to meet on a Saturday when you’re supposed to be celebrating your mom’s birthday? Go wild and try telling the truth! Most people will appreciate the honesty and be more than willing to find another time that works, and if things absolutely can’t be rearranged and you have to push lunch with mom back, at least you've established that personal commitments and things that help