A lot of people struggle with this: saying “no,” saying “no” in work and business.
The first real way for you to say no is: You have to know what you stand for.
What are your principles? What are your values? What are the things that you’re willing to be penalized for?
The world will offer you a lot of opportunities, favors, and requests that you think you can do, and maybe you can really do these things. But you should always ask yourself if you do these things.
I remember a story. One time I was approached by this company—and it was an online gambling company. We actually receive tons of inquiries from these kinds of businesses.
However, my grandfather struggled with gambling, and we lost our family’s wealth because of that. So I have a principle of not working with such websites and clients. I have never gambled in my life as well.
It’s something I want to veer away from. My dad, too, gave me the advice to never touch it. He thought, maybe it’s in the blood. Maybe, I might get addicted to it too. So I never even tried it and avoided supporting it in all its forms.
That’s not to say that I couldn’t have benefited from this kind of business. These online gambling companies have a lot of money. They can pay well. But, we still outright reject them. We tell them their business and industry are simply something we don’t serve, and that they’re free to look for another supplier out there.
Sticking with your principles and values is so important because if you don’t stand for something, you fall for everything.
The second point today is: How can you say no, without compromising the relationship?
So let’s just say you already know the client, you’ve done business with them. How do you deny or reject certain requests from them that are outside of your scope or outside of your principles?
Sometimes it is as easy as charging them much more than what they are willing to pay. In Tagalog we call this presyong ayaw, right? It’s hard to say no to current clients because they feel like you owe them a favor. They feel like they hired you and you have to work for them. You have to do it for them. They’re paying you for it, which in fact they are not, right?
Usually, when you have a contract there is a scope and you stick to that scope. Anything that they are requesting as a favor outside of that scope is another deal altogether. And it is actually in your right to reject whatever it is that they are requesting or asking, especially if it is outside of your principles as CEO, as a founder, as a leader, as a manager, or if it is outside your company core values.
So how I usually do this is by giving them a price that is way out of bounds, so that they already realized that maybe SEO Hacker is not the company that we’re going to get for this certain task or this certain project.
Another way to say it is by simply saying, “Sorry, that’s out of scope and it’s not something we do, and it is not our expertise to do that for you. Feel free to look for other suppliers out there.”
And another reason why you would want to say this is it is best for you to stick with your area of expertise. So if they’re asking you for a favor or a request of something outside the scope of your work with them, and it’s not something that you’re really good at, just don’t get the project.
Stick to your expertise, because that is where you will please them the most and have a long-term relationship with them.
While I often have clients asking for things outside of our scope, there are also times that I’ve been asked something that’s out of my principles as a human being.
For example, certain politicians have requested for us to find them a troll army, and I simply turn that down. It’s not something we do—and something that I believe shouldn’t be used by government officials in our country or elsewhere.
We also turn down requests for cleaning up the names of certain politicians if they committed things that are not right, and their search results when you search for their names are not pleasant. We reject those requests because they have committed those atrocities, and I believe it is not right for us to cover it up for them.
Of course, they are free to get other suppliers out there, and that’s not going to be an issue anymore.
But as for me and SEO Hacker, it is against our principles. We know what we stand for, so it’s easy for us to say no to these things.
Similarly, we also say no to porn stars and porn sites who ask us to do work for them or clean up some of their porn stars’ names in certain search results.
These are things that are so easy for us to say no to, even if we are being offered a lucrative amount of money because we know our principles and we know what we stand for.
So I guess the brunt of this lesson, of this episode that I hope you will get is: Know what you stand for, know your principles, make sure you write them down, put them to heart, be willing to be penalized for them, and do not compromise. It would be so easy for you to make decisions and to say no in a kind and pleasant way if you know what you stand for.