Every Time You Say Yes To Something, You Are Saying No To Something Else – Like Your Spouse And Kids

Warren Buffett once said that the difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.


This goes against the advice that many of us have heard over and over again. I remember when I first got started, and I joined a new, high-ticket coaching program.


One of the things that they taught us there was that you shouldn’t leave money on the table. What they meant was that, if you were a service provider or a coach or a consultant, and someone asked you, “Do you provide this service?”, your answer needed to be yes. If it wasn’t, then you were leaving money on the table. We were taught to say, “Yes, of course, I do,” to anything and everything. And then, after you close the deal, you find someone to partner with in order to deliver on that product or service. That’s, they said, how you could expand and grow your company.



I followed that advice for many years. I was always able to provide a good service for what I had promised by partnering with other people or by learning to do it myself. Unfortunately, I usually underestimated how much it was going to cost to fulfill it or the amount of time it would take to learn that new service. Also, I was never able to get it to become very profitable. The reason I wasn’t able to become very profitable is that I was trying to learn how to do everything.


There’s another saying about that: “Jack of all trades is a master of none.”


That’s exactly what was going on in my businesses. I learned how to do Facebook ads and landing pages and websites and social media. We built applications. We did pretty much everything under the sun with digital marketing, but we were not able to become experts in any of them because we weren’t confident enough at that time to say, “No, that’s not what we do.”


To paraphrase Warren Buffett, the difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people have learned how to say no to anything that is not their main project.


In fact, I was reading just the other day another story about Warren Buffett. During a sort of coaching session with someone he was working with, Buffet asked the man to make a list of all of the projects that he was working on. So, this person made a list and, when he was finished, he had about 25 different projects listed. Warren Buffet noticed that he had circled five of them.


Buffet asked, “Why did you circle five out of these 25 things on your list?” And the person responded, “Those are my top five activities, the top five projects that I’m working on.” Then Warren Buffett asked, “What about the other twenty?” He answered, “Those are for whenever I have some free time. Then I start to work on those other twenty projects.”

Warren Buffett responded with another question, “Isn’t it actually that those other twenty things are your distractions that keep you from being hyper-focused on your top five priorities? Do those other twenty things actually prevent you from becoming very successful?”


That’s the key here.



The key is that every time you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else. This is a lesson that all of us need to learn in our own business and our own life.


Figure out your top priorities. What are the top things that you want to focus on in your business for this next year? What will help you to actually grow your company? Just because an opportunity comes to your door doesn’t mean that you should be saying yes, especially if you’re just getting started.


When we’re just starting out and we’re trying to scale our business from zero to $5,000 a month or $10,000 a month or $250,000 a month, we’re not able to focus on more than just one business at a time. Every time we do that, we are splintering ourselves and dividing our focus and our efforts. And, when we do this, we’re not able to grow our company and to scale it to the level that we could if we were hyper-focused on the project that is right in front of us, the real project we want to be working on.


One of the big things that people like to do every year is to make their big list of New Year’s resolutions. For entrepreneurs and business owners, this list of resolutions typically includes business goals. And, from there, those goals turn into marketing plans and new strategies that will help them achieve what they’re after.


Oftentimes the result of these well intended efforts are very detailed and complicated marketing plans, ones that span the next 365 days and include every single idea they have. If they are very detailed, they may even be planning out what they need to get accomplished every single day—or maybe the three things they need to do every single day. When they do this, they believe they’ll be able to meet their goals.


But, what actually happens is that we start to focus on fulfilling that plan, and we fall behind because we’re really good at thinking, “Oh, I can get that done in an hour,” and it doesn’t take an hour. It never takes an hour. It’s going to take six hours or it’s going to take a whole day or you’re going to have interruptions or you’re going to have blockers. We think that we’re going to be able to get these three things done every single day. But, when we start to work on them, we fall behind. And, suddenly, we didn’t meet our goals.


On the next day, instead of having three things on our list, we now have six things. We have the three things for that day and then the three things from the day before. Pretty soon, we have fifteen things on our list, and maybe we’ve got one done.

And then, of course, we get discouraged. We begin to be tempted to think, “Why should I even try? I’ll never be able to be successful. I’m not able to keep up with this plan that I have set for myself.”


Instead, we should tell ourselves, “Okay, I need to focus for the next ninety days on these three things. These three things will get my primary attention, and anything else that comes in, if it’s not in alignment with the three things that I’m focused on for the next ninety days, then it’s going to be no.”


Another way to look at this, which is so important, especially if you’re a mom or dad, is that every time you say yes, you are saying no to something else. Usually that no is to your family. A lot of us by nature are very helpful. As entrepreneurs, we want to solve problems when someone has a problem. We want to figure out how to fix it, how to solve it.


And every time we say yes to help someone else with their problem, what we’re saying no to is more time with our spouse or our kids. As entrepreneurs, one of the things we need to consider is why we are doing this in the first place. We say we’re doing this so we can spend more time with our families. But, at the end of the day, we actually spent less time with our families because we’re so focused on trying to make our business successful.


Again, this is why it’s so important to limit the number of projects that you’re working on. Focus on the top three to five projects at any given time. Make sure that every time you say yes to something, you’ve considered exactly what you are saying no to. As yourself, “What can I take off of my plate?” Despite what we like to tell ourselves, we can’t do everything. Thankfully, by not doing everything and focusing on the right things, we can actually hit our goals that much faster.

Your Network Is Your Net Worth

Okay, Nicole, how did you recover? How did you pivot? How did you reinvent yourself? How did you pick yourself up after such a devastating crash?


Good questions. So, I’d like to share that story with you. When this all happened to our business in 2012, we were still serving as missionaries in Puebla, Mexico. But, in going from $47,000 to $6,000 a month, we no longer had enough to cover our main business expenses, much less our family expenses. We ended up having to pick up our entire family, our seven kids, and go back to California where we actually lived for a year while we tried to figure out how we could rebuild this business from scratch.


Yes, it was that much of an impact on our lives. We actually had to physically pick up and go back to the United States for a whole year while we figured this out. One of the things we kept in mind during this time was the power of speaking at live events. People would always say that, if you’re wanting to get business, speaking at live events was one of the best things you could do. So, I opened myself up to that experience and I booked as many meetings as I could for the next 12 months while I was living in the States.


The other thing I focused on during this time was building my network. After all, building your business really is the same thing as building your network. So, I looked for all of the different local events I could find in the San Diego area. And for every event I could, I submitted speaker applications

— and a majority of them got accepted.



I also went to my Facebook profile and I found any friends, anyone at all, that was in the San Diego area, and I contacted them, asking them if they wanted to go to lunch. Let me tell you, I took a lot of people to lunch in those first three months. This was actually the best decision I could have made and was responsible for turning everything around.


I also tried something else. I would look for “Meet Ups” and go to 1-3 different meet-ups every single day. And, let me tell you something else, this was definitely a mistake. I came across as desperate for business, and that is the opposite of what you need to do if you really need business. Of course, I was desperate. We were looking for a way to rebuild our business very quickly so that we could come back to Mexico and continue to serve as missionaries.


I was pretty crazy about these meetups. Sometimes I even went to a three in a single day. That was really crazy. But what I found is that all these Meetup events are filled with realtors, insurance salespeople, and financial consultants. All of them are looking for clients. None of them had any money because they’re at these free events. Of course people attend free events because they don’t have money. That’s why they’re going to free events. And everyone that’s going to the free event is trying to network and find someone to sell their product or service to, so free events are literally filled with realtors, insurance agents, independent consultants, like Mary Kay, and financial advisors. Literally, that’s everyone who’s there. But, I didn’t give up because that’s what everyone said you needed to do.


So, I would go to these live events, these Meetups and I would meet people to network. But none of them had any money, so they couldn’t hire me. I kept going, however, because I was trying to figure out what I was going to do. How was I going to pivot?


Desperate for an answer, I started inviting people out to lunch. These were people that had been in my network for a long time, like Facebook friends and other successful business owners. But they were also new people I was meeting. At each lunch, I would say, “Hey, this is what happened to me. What advice would you give me?” And they, of course, all had different advice. Regardless, I tried to do everything they said.


If there was one common thread within all of their advice, however, it was to go speak at events. This was the key, they said, because people look up to speakers as experts, which means that they’ll be more likely to want to work with you. So, I became a speaker, using what leverage I could at events to try to garner new business. But, what I didn’t realize was that those people in the audience were not my target market. Even though these people had money to pay the $1500 or $2000 they needed to attend, they actually were employees at large corporations; they were not entrepreneurs, or even interested in entrepreneurs.


They weren’t business owners. They weren’t people that were looking to purchase services. If they want to purchase services, you have to go through an invoice system, you have to go through a proposal process, bid for the project, and meet with, maybe see the CEO. Even though everyone loved my presentations, they would line up afterwards to get more tips and advice, they would even fill out my email form, I still wasn’t making sales. Sure, I was building my email list, but that wasn’t translating to money for me.


Eventually, I was able to get in front of a couple CEOs. I remember specifically meeting with one CEO in Seattle in particular. His company was a few hours away from the event I was at but I couldn’t say no to the opportunity. So, there I was in the boardroom, pitching the CEO, and he’s like, “Well, how is this any different than what these five other companies are doing?” And, to be honest, I didn’t know. I wasn’t any different because, at the time, I was a commodity. I was offering the same exact services as five other companies.


But, after all of the no’s, after all of the time seemingly wasted, I finally met someone who completely changed my business. This person said to me, “Hey, you know what? I’m involved with

Infusionsoft; they’re sort of my partner. Once you get certified with them, I’ll be able to refer business to you.” Sure, it sounded good, but the next Infusionsoft training wasn’t until January or February of next year — and it was only June.


So, in the time between, I spent my time doing all the wrong stuff to build my business. And, man, do I wish I had had a coach or mentor to tell me the right thing to do at the time. That “right thing”, of course, was to get speaking engagements at events with people in the audience that were actually my target market: entrepreneurs.


I knew I needed to become an Infusionsoft certified partner like my friend had said. But, I was a little intimidated because even though I had owned the software since 2009, I barely used it — and now it was 2012. Still, I went to the training at the Infusionsoft headquarters in Arizona to learn how to become a “partner”. I really believed that the training that I was going to receive was going to teach me how to use the software. Surprise! They don’t teach you how to use the software!


Instead, they teach you how to sell the software, building up a foundation of independent sales representatives that earn commissions. So, if you’ve ever hired an Infusionsoft partner and then realized they don’t know anything about Infusionsoft, it’s because they haven’t been trained on the actual software.


Anyway, I got certified, which meant that I now got to help my friend do the kick-start training Infusionsoft was outsourcing every time they got a new contract. So, now I’m on the phone and talking to people about how to use Infusionsoft even though I barely know how to use the soft-ware myself. Not a problem. So, I’m on the phone calls and, thankfully, everything is usually quite simple. Most people ask the same questions every time about setting things up, uploading contacts, and creating basic templates. But, occasionally I would have someone that would be more advanced, and they would ask me a question that I had no idea about. I would have to say, “You know what? No one has ever asked me that question before! I will find out, and I will get back to you next week.”


These people actually found my answer to be very helpful. They even felt smart because they had asked an intelligent question, something I couldn’t even answer. Of course, I was brand new, but I didn’t tell them that. I ended up training over 100 new users on Infusionsoft, which is about 400 hours of training! With all that time invested, I did become an expert. And, even better, I got to talk with a lot of different people and business owners, from dog trainers to lawyers, and learn how they wanted to use Infusionsoft.


In a fairly short amount of time, I became confident enough to say that I could help anyone with anything about Infusionsoft. I had reinvented myself, pivoting from SEO to marketing automation. Now, because of what I learned, I can help my new clients launch new businesses, to grow, to automate, and to scale, using Infusionsoft as their primary system.



And I wouldn’t have found this opportunity if I hadn’t worked so hard to expand my network. Remember, your network really is your net worth.


None of this would have happened if I hadn’t put myself out there and called up everyone in my network and said, “Hey, can I take you to lunch?” Or if I hadn’t attended all of these meetings and events, moving through the weeds until I finally found what I was looking for. Never take your network for granted. Any time that you invest in other people or give back to others is helpful. It’s never a waste of time, even though it might feel like that every now and then.


When I first started out, the number one way that I would get customers is just getting into online forums and answering questions. I was just giving back and being helpful to them — and that is absolutely what you can be doing right now. No matter where you are in your business, even if you’re at your lowest of lows, reach out to your network. See how you can contribute to them, answer other people’s questions, provide value, and put yourself out there. You never know what can happen from doing that.

If They Can Do It, You Can Too!

Most people don’t understand how I got started in online marketing. As a missionary in Mexico, people seem to think that the two don’t go together. In reality…

  • I never planned on becoming an internet marketer. 
  • I did not study marketing in college 
  • I never planned to do anything else but be a missionary wife.

But in 2002, while I was on bed rest with our second child (we have 7 kids now)…

I stumbled across an ebook called, “How to Start a Yahoo Store.”  The book was about how anyone could start an ecommerce business online without actually having to invest thousands of dollars in products. The e-book cost $50 and, at that time, that was a huge amount of money for us, especially for a book. But then I thought to myself…

“If I could just make an extra $200 a month that would be amazing.

I would be able to go to Starbucks whenever I wanted.

I would be able to buy a dress every now and then.

I’d be able to give to our church when needs came up.

Plus, I’d have a little something to do right now to pass the time while I’m stuck in bed!” 

So, I bought this seemingly expensive e-book, “How to Start a Yahoo Store” by Andy Jenkins. While reading, I kept focusing on one thing in particular, and it kept showing up again and again. By the end of the book, my major takeaway was…

“Wow! This guy really doesn’t know how to spell.” 

The entire book, from front to back, was filled with spelling errors. Of course, I managed to overlook the misspellings, focusing on the author’s explanation of how to get started with an online store. 

One of the things he said to do was to create an excel file with all of the information about your products, making it easier to upload the products to your website in bulk. At the time, I didn’t even know what an excel file was! I went to Bible College in a pre-digital world! Only one young man in our entire school even had a laptop back then! 

He went on to say that you get the products you sell from people or companies called “dropshippers.” These dropshippers buy products in bulk and then store them in their warehouse, but they don’t directly sell them to consumers. Instead, they allow their resellers to put the products on their websites, making money on the large orders and the small margin of markup. This is how, it turns out, you can sell other people’s products without investing in any inventory, which means no monetary investment up front.

As I was learning all of these things from this e-book, I was definitely a little intimidated. The e-book was very long, detailing everything you needed to know about how to run a successful online business. It also included the author’s story about how he successfully built his own business.

Of course, as I read about his 8 successes, all I could think was, “Man, if this guy, who doesn’t even know how to spell, can launch a successful e-commerce store, well then I definitely can. It’s not rocket science.” 

I was so inspired by him that my husband and I launched our first e-commerce site in 2002. Almost immediately, we started generating about $3,000 a month in sales, which was a huge amount to me at the time. Needless to say, I very quickly reached my initial goal of earning an extra $200 per month. 

At a conference a few years later, I was able to finally meet the author of that e-book, Andy Jenkins. Who, despite the spelling errors in that e-book, is brilliant. I told him the story about how he inspired me. He shared with me that the reason the document had a lot of spelling errors was because he had uploaded the wrong file, not the one he had edited, on the day he launched that course. 

What a great example of that saying,

 “You don’t have to get it perfect, you just have to get it going.”

In 2002, I was living in a third world country, living in Mexico with dial up Internet. But I kept saying to myself, “If Andy can do it, I can definitely do it, too.” That’s the message I have for you today: “If he can do it, you can, too.” 

My question for you is: What’s stopping you today from growing your business or from starting a business?

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