Say No to customers

Paradoxically, great art lies in what the painter chooses to leave out as much as what s/he decides to put in. Similarly, the art of business strategy is not just about deciding what you are going to do; just as important is deciding what you are not going to do. Having a ‘must not do’ list is as important as your ‘to do’ list.

In an article in Harvard Business Review, Susan Bishop wrote:
“Today, saying no is our growth strategy. That is, our growth strategy is saying no to the wrong kind of clients – those who take us away from a business model based on our mission, values and areas of expertise”.


“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone.”
Bill Cosby. Actor (and multimillionaire)

“The talk turns to Bill Gates. Chan says Gates’s business model works because he had the self-discipline not to diversify. “He can resist temptation, that’s why he is so great. I think that’s what I should learn from him.”
Timothy Chan. China’s second richest man. (Guardian. 08 November 2004)

“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.”
– Tony Blair


And of course it is impossible to know to whom to say no, which projects to decline, and which customers not to deal with, if the enterprise is not clear about its mission, values and competitive advantage.

Successful creative and digital businesses choose what NOT to do – and say NO to customers that aren’t profitable.


Read more about selecting the right customers and why you should say no to customers that don’t enhance your business strategy. Marketing in Minutes on Your Mobile – download eBook ‘Chase One Rabbit’.

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