I doubled my income when I learned to say, “No.”

As a people-pleaser, I really struggled with saying no for a lonnnnng time (longer than I’d like to admit, tbh).

And, yet, as soon as I started saying no – to the wrong clients, to the wrong work, to the wrong money – I increased my income.

Melissa McFarlane, CEO of Creative Successful Entrepreneurs, has been gently nudging me to say no for years. Whether it was because I wanted to help everyone I met, because of my people-pleasing tendencies, or I was in scarcity mode – saying no was one of my primary challenges.

Here’s what Melissa has to say about saying, “NO.” 🛑👇

You may have heard us over at CSE talking about the importance of picking a target. And, we want to add some words about STICKING with your target.

Sticking to your target means developing the habit of saying “no” to the people who are not your target. And, believe me, learning who to say no to is one of the best skills you’ll ever develop.

It’s scary to pass up on a client or a gig just because it doesn’t fit into your target, but we have found over and over that when we free up the time and energy that we get back when we start saying no to the wrong clients, we make much more money with our ability to really market to and serve the right clients.

I say no all the time. And, it’s still hard. I’ll find someone who is offering to pay me less than I want to make, or they are not a right fit for our company, and I still vacillate sometimes. I’ll think, “This person is offering to give me money right now!”

Sometimes it’s hard to say no.

But, because I’ve defined my target, and what I want to be paid for my services (and frankly, what I NEED to run the business and pay taxes), I say no, because I know that that energy can be put into finding the right client at the right price, or to better serving the clients I already have. And, while it requires riding a brief wave of fear, it works. It always has, and it always will.

Know your audience, know what they hunger for, understand how your unique skills can help them solve that problem, and you’ve won half the battle, because you know, as a business owner, where to focus your limited resources.

Success in business depends to a great extent on how you will choose what to put your focus on when you have too many choices. If you are going to succeed, you need to understand that you will not be able to address everything that comes across your desk, and you’ll have to make these decisions quickly. Unless you have made some clear choices about who it is you serve, where you can make the most money for the least effort, and who your core competency best serves, you’re much more likely to jump anytime someone offers to pay you for your services. This means you’re running your business reactively, and that doesn’t work. Never has, never will.

If you make this error, you will be running around like crazy taking on too much work for too little money. You’ll be exhausted, spread thin, and, eventually, you’ll burn out.

The solution? Have the confidence to go after the clients you really want, at the price point you really want. And in order to do that, you have to decide who that target is. Once you decide on that target, you need to have the courage to say no to those that aren’t in that target. (By the way, sometimes that means saying no even when you haven’t landed your right-fit client. Sometimes that means saying no even when you don’t have the money you need flowing in the door because you understand that saying no to the wrong clients means you can invest time and energy into landing the right clients.)

Stay tuned for more from Melissa and the CSE team!


This blog post was authored by the amazing Melissa McFarlane, CEO of Creative Successful Entrepreneurs, District Bliss Member, and my business coach.

Melissa McFarlane, CEO of Creative Successful Entrepreneurs

CSE founder Melissa McFarlane is a seasoned, internationally-recognized coach with over 25 years of experience in executive, business, and personal coaching. She and her team have demonstrated an uncanny, intuitive genius for removing barriers and cutting through personal and organizational roadblocks to allow real emotional, mental, and practical breakthroughs to occur.

At CSE, we help creatives start and grow businesses. We help people turn their passion into income. We show people how they can make a real living doing what they are best at. And we’ve been doing it for over twenty-five years.

Book a strategy call with Melissa today!


Ready to skyrocket your business with ease?! Join District Bliss today!

District Bliss is a community of introverted and extroverted business owners who are sick of that stodgy style of networking and want to break free and build their businesses with ease.

Together, we move from feeling isolated into highly-supported and referral-generating businesses. We collaborate and build deep, authentic connections with like-minded humans and move beyond struggling to find a place where we belong and find the resources, support, and people we need!

Shelly Pate Photography captured this candid photograph of Sara, owner of District Bliss, and Chrissy, owner of Charismatic Creations, holding their Winks Photo Booth pictures and laughing at The Gallery at Elevate in DC

If you’re looking for…

– increased visibility
– access to our experts
– an actively engaged, supportive community
– awesome networking opportunities
… and so.much.more

You’re in the right place. Click here to apply!

Become a District Bliss Member today!