How to Build Tough Skin With Your Business
“That’s a little steep. I was thinking $XX”. How would that statement make you feel if a client approached you and said that about your prices? How do you feel about people telling you what they think you should charge? I bet you’d be surprised and possibly offended. You might feel frustrated or even confused about why someone would say that to you about your business. You might think to yourself, “I deliver value. I know my worth. I know how much work I put into this business”. And, depending on how rude the person is, you might say many things you're thinking.
I've had someone say this to me before. The number was filled with the most unreasonable figure ever; not even half of what my fee was. I was a bit shocked and insulted, but I was very excited to say “hell no”. I was excited to repeat what my fee was and what it will remain. I didn't explain myself, as many of us don't need to. I simply ended the conversation.
If you’re in business, you will be challenged. Something or someone will make you uncomfortable. Something or someone may challenge your character, your services, your prices, and especially your ability to stand firm. It’s inevitable. There will be times when you will have to say no to requests dressed as opportunities. There will be times when you will have to turn away money when you’re broke. All of these things will happen, but what it all boils down to is how you react to it. It boils down to how you choose to handle your business interactions.
The real problem is not other people, the problem here is FEAR.
There’s this fear that many new business owners have about losing. They may lose a client. They may lose out on money. They may miss an opportunity. All these things may be present when you are new to business so it affects your response when a tough client says, “That’s a little steep. I was thinking $XX”.
If you aren't naturally aggressive and don't normally respond with assertiveness, you’re not going to be prepared for people like this. Your response isn’t going to be firm because you’ll think about what you don't have first instead of focusing on what your business is and stands for.
Having tough skin isn’t something that everyone is born with. I certainly wasn’t born with it. My tough skin was built from learning to say “no” without feeling bad about it. It was built through experiences. Tough skin will help you make wise decisions in difficult situations. It is the shield that you’ll use to protect your reputation and business at all times. Let’s discuss 3 things that you must do that will build your tough skin with your business:
DECIDE & COMMIT
The first thing you must do is clarify and finalize your business model (every way your business will make money) and your brand plan (the plan that you intentionally execute to build the brand image you want to have). After you clarify these two things, narrow down your plan by being very specific about what you will and will not do. Be very specific about who you will and will not serve. Decide where your boundaries are and commit to those boundaries.
Next, create policies for your business based on what you will and will not do/who you will and will not serve. Clients can read and sign policies before services are rendered. Policies can be on your website or business pages. Policies can be enforced and they can be honored in court. Policy protects your NO.
You must take this step seriously because it is your foundation step. It has to be solid and clear so that you can understand when tough skin is needed. It’s a solid decision to make to yourself. When you commit to yourself, don’t waver from it because you will be challenged.
ENJOY SAYING NO
“No” is a complete sentence. “No” is not a mean statement, but it is a powerful one. Many people who have a hard time saying no think about how the other person feels. Saying “no” has nothing to do with the person who’s receiving the rejection. It’s about you controlling the direction of your business. Saying no builds your strength each time you say it. But, here’s the thing…you have to say “no” without feeling bad about it. Train your mind to believe that saying no is for you. Remove the emotion from your business decision, respond firmly, and enjoy standing up for yourself.
Remember to always keep your brand image and reputation in mind when you respond, but never allow people to tell you how to run your business. Never let anyone tell you what you will do for them. Practice saying it to yourself when you are challenged. Look yourself in the mirror, and say “No. Hell no. That’s not going to work for me.” Whatever response works for you, repeat it until you feel it.
BRING “YOUR GUY OR YOUR GIRL” OUT
Yes, I’ve been watching way too much Scandal. If you’re not a Scandal fan, bypass that sentence. For those of you who don’t know what “your guy/girl” means, your “guy/girl” is that inner person who’s strong for you. It’s the person who says what needs to be said and does what needs to be done. It’s that inner voice that says how you really feel. It speaks your truth. You don’t have to be mean to people. Be tactful by all means, but “your guy/girl” should definitely come out when you are being challenged.
Your “guy/girl” understands the meaning of NO. It doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. It knows exactly what your business needs, when something is wrong, and when to step up and stand firm. If you’re fearful of losing business because of the word no, I encourage you to find your inner “guy/girl”, be truthful to it and allow it to surface at the right time. You’ll be confident. You’ll be proud that you stand for something.
Once you learn to firmly say “no” without feeling bad, you’ll begin to build muscle in the area of making wise business decisions. Although the first few times may feel uncomfortable, commit to following your inner gut. Commit to being proud that you stand for something. And if needed, commit to letting “your guy/girl” handle it when situations get sticky.