“Life has no blessing like a prudent friend.” -Euripides

Many entrepreneurs struggle with saying no. It’s hard to say no to good ideas. It’s even harder to say no to great ideas.

But when you neglect to say no, bad things happen. Here are 3 areas which you must be extremely careful to steward right–which means, saying NO.

Your Main Marketing Message
This is something many businesses get wrong. The key to a successful marketing message is to present one clear, concise message that’s easy for prospects to understand. There are so many great benefits to your product or service, but when you don’t say “no” to communicating some of them, the key thing gets lost. The prospect loses and ultimately, you lose.

Nail down ONE great message and then say no to all the great ideas that come.

Your Company Image
This is closely-linked to your marketing message–and, often, can be seen as one and the same. But, for larger businesses, the company image is larger than just their product’s benefits. The “brand” is what I’m referring to here. For smaller companies, this should be less of a concern…but if you have any kind of size, you need to be the one who says “no” to certain things here, too.

To create a lasting brand that is recognizable to prospects and customers, and invokes loyalty, you need to define the brand in clean, simple terms, and then lock it down. If the brand is always shape-shifting, your audience won’t be able to keep up and they’ll give up trying.

Your Core Products or Services
This might be the most important of the three. Whether it’s a product you ship to your customers, or a service that you provide, your product is how you deliver on your marketing message and brand promise. If messaging and branding tend to get disrupted by all the “good” ideas out there, there’s a good chance your product is all over the place as well.

Let’s take the photography industry as an example–but instructive for any business:

A photographer goes into business and defines her particular niche, let’s say black & white baby photography. If she sticks to her guns and focuses on that niche, there’s a good chance she can become an expert in that area and people will come flocking to get baby photos with her.

But, what usually happens is as soon as a slow month passes, she begins to take on work outside of her area of expertise. Someone requests wedding photos and she does it out of desperation. Someone else needs a family portrait. Pretty soon, she’s no longer an expert. She’s an average photographer that has no specialty.

Learn to say no. Your business future will thank you.