This week, we interviewed business growth expert Lisa Aldisert about how to create your growth plan for 2013.

(If you’re a Main Street Inner Circle member, you’ll receive access to the recording in the coming days).

One of my favorite pieces of advice that Lisa gave on the call was to create a “Keep, Add, Delete” list for the coming year:

  • Keep: What will you keep doing in the coming year?
  • Add: What can you add to your business, so you boost your growth?
  • Delete: What are you going to STOP doing?

(Note: I’m a big fan of these 3 questions. I gave very similar advice in my Forbes article: 3 Questions to Get Unstuck And Grow Your Business Faster.)


It’s Easy to Say “Yes”

Most entrepreneurs and business owners are really good at saying “Yes” and adding items to their “To Do” lists. I would say most people are too good at saying “Yes” and not good enough at saying “No.”

When we were just starting out, we pretty much said “Yes” to any opportunity that came our way. But often saying “Yes” got us into trouble.

One of our earliest clients wanted help with search engine optimization (SEO). And that was actually a very good fit for our skills. We got his website ranking on the first page of Google within a few weeks (and he’s still on the first page to this day, 2 years later).

But we got into trouble when our client asked if we could also design his brochure. And we said “Yes” to that opportunity, even though we had little to no experience with brochure design. It was a stretch, to say the least. We did our best, but the project was a struggle and it ended up straining our relationship with our client.


You Must Learn To Say “No”

As a result of this experience, we started to say “No” to projects that didn’t fit tightly within our core competencies. We also learned to say “No” to clients that we didn’t think we could really help. And we soon started saying “No” to client opportunities below a certain dollar amount.

And as we continued to grow our business, we’ve made our focus sharper and sharper. And we’ve started to say “No” more and more.

By July 2012, we decided to stop taking on new “implementation” clients altogether. We made this decision after taking 2 days in June 2012 to think long and hard about our long-term vision and plan for Main Street ROI. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right decision for us.

And today, we refer these types of implementation project opportunities to marketing companies within our Main Street Marketing Network.

We’ve said “No” to most projects that have come our way, so we can focus on building our core business: developing marketing training programs.


Saying “No” Takes Courage

Over the past 3 weeks alone, we’ve passed up more than $30,000 in potential revenue from prospective clients who contacted Main Street ROI looking to hire a marketing company.

As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s not easy to say “No” to money. (And I’ve learned NOT to tell my wife about these opportunities we pass up!)

But it’s been the right decision for our company.  We’re more passionate about this new direction we’ve chosen. And we’ve been able to help many more businesses than we would have been able to serve in an implementation capacity.

And ever since we started saying “No,” we’ve opened up many new opportunities for growth — opportunities that wouldn’t have existed if we had been saying “Yes” to everything that came our way.


What Say YOU?

Have you found it hard to say “No” to opportunities in your business? What are you considering deleting from your “To Do” list in 2013?