How to respond to naysayers

How to answer every naysayer you’ll ever meet – including yourself!

Although I’ve already written about how to say no to those negative saboteurs called naysayers, what I haven’t done yet is give you examples of the types of things they might say to you. Now you might be on the receiving end of these negative comments at some point in your career, or you might be the one saying or thinking them yourself, but whichever one it may be, it will certainly help to have a response at the ready!

I don’t want to freak you out by the way. People may say these things to you, but equally they may not. I just want you to be prepared for any doubts or questions that either you or someone else may have when it comes to setting up your won business.

Because if you can answer every single question or negative doubt that might come up, there will be nothing standing in your way apart from you!

Naysayer comments and how to reply

Naysayer: You don’t know the first thing about running a business!

I guess nobody does when they first start out, but even Rockefeller had to start somewhere! However, I’ve been reading everything I can and I’ve got a fantastic support group of people around me. Some people in my group are also in the setting up process but many of them are already business owners, so I always know where to go to get answers to my questions.

Naysayer: I hear that a lot of businesses fail!

I guess a lot of businesses do fail but many of them succeed as well. I’ll be putting in a lot of hard work to make sure I’m in the second category. I hear that having the support of friends and family also helps.

If you wanted to, you could always point out that:

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was rejected 12 times and J.K. Rowling was told “not to quit her day job”.
  • In 1977 Ken Olsen, the founder of Digital Equipment Corp, said there would be no need for a computer in the home.
  • Jay-Z set up his own record company because not one label would sign him.
  • Thomas Edison was told at school that he was “too stupid to learn anything”.
  • In 1946 Darryl Zanuck said TV wouldn’t last because people would “soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night”.
  • Simon Cowell rejected the Spice Girls.
  • In 2005 Alan Sugar said “Next Christmas the iPod will be dead, finished, gone, kaput”.

(So what I’m saying is that other people don’t always know what they’re talking about!)

Naysayer: Are people actually going to pay just to have some admin done?

Oh yes, and they pay a lot of money as well. Admin and organisation are skills that don’t come naturally to most business owners and many of them feel they are wasting a lot of time on admin when they could be getting on with more important things.

Sometimes they use a VA to do things they can’t do but mostly they use them to do things they aren’t good at, don’t like to do, or tasks that are just taking up their time. Running a business contains many repetitive, time consuming tasks and business owners often get lost in the admin side of things.

If they outsource these tasks, they can get on with servicing their clients, growing their business and making more money. After all, there’s a limit to what one person can do by themselves.

Naysayer: Wow, isn’t that a lot of money to charge?

Not really, it’s the going rate for VAs and I’m in a group full of thousands of people who charge and get paid that amount already so I know clients are happy to pay for good skills.

Also, freelancers have to pay their own tax and they have no company pension, maternity pay, holiday pay, or sick pay. There are a lot of expenses involved which is why they charge quite a lot more than the minimum wage. Plus, what you or I may think is a lot of money isn’t always what other people think is a lot.

Naysayer: There’s no job security, you know!

Yes, and that’s one of the reasons why freelancing isn’t for everyone and also the reason why the hourly rate is so high – freelancers exchange job security for a high hourly rate. 

Also, because VAs always have more than one client, and therefore multiple revenue incomes, they’re not putting all their eggs in one basket. So even if I do lose a client, I’ll still have the others and I won’t lose my income in one go which is what would happen if I were to be made redundant.

In fact, freelancers have traditionally always done well in volatile or unstable economies because they’re flexible and can adapt quickly to changes.

Naysayer: Isn’t the VA market saturated already?

Well, I’m not sure where you heard that but no, it isn’t. Also, when you think about it, there are loads of web developers, accountants, solicitors, coffee shops, hairdressers (continue with this list forever) in our town alone, and they’re all busy.

A saturated market would be if I lived in a town of 10,000 people and 1,000 of them were VAs! Plus all VAs have different personalities and skills and we work with people all over the world (hence the name ‘virtual’) so we’re not restricted by location. 

Naysayer: Isn’t it incredibly risky / a massive gamble?

Millions of people run their own business so I don’t see why I can’t be one of them. I’m not going to just chuck in my job, I’m going to slowly set up alongside my job to see how it goes. If I like it and the signs are good then I’ll carefully transition over from one to the other.

I’m not gambling or risking anything.

Naysayer: What if you fail?

But what if I don’t? Life is extremely short so personally, I want to make the most of the time I’m here and see if I can reach my full potential. I know it isn’t something that everyone wants to do, but it’s something that I would like to do. I don’t want to be on my deathbed one day regretting not even trying to see what I could achieve.

I’m going into this with my eyes wide open. I’ve researched it to death, I have a support group of other VAs, and I know the full facts of what it involves. To be honest, even if I do fail it’s far worse for me not to have tried. I know it will be a lot of hard work, but the success of my business will be solely down to me – and that’s kind of scary but also wonderfully exciting.

Now a lot of these points are completely valid. It’s true that you don’t yet have any experience running a business, there is no job security and a lot of businesses do fail.

But they’re definitely not good enough reasons to prevent you from setting up your business.

Nobody has experience of running a business until they do, a freelancer has more job security than an expendable employee who could be made redundant at any time (my best friend has been made redundant 5 times), and many businesses fail because the owner has no plan, no discipline and wasn’t sufficiently prepared.

You wouldn’t let someone else dress you in the morning so why would you let someone else decide the course of your life?

Takeaways

Not everyone is going to be on board with you setting up your own business – but that is their concern and not yours. Some people are simply scared of change, and for others, you taking control and doing something exciting with your life only highlights their own failure to do so.

You may be out of their comfort zone so they want to keep you where you are, or it may be that they simply don’t see that there are other ways to live their lives and make a living. You understand that as long as you can pay your rent and bills you can earn a living however you choose, but they may not have worked that out yet.

To be honest though – I can give you tonnes of examples of things people may say, but it shouldn’t actually matter. You’re not living your one wild and precious life for them, you’re living it for you.

Don’t let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of yours.

Instead of worrying about what other people might want you to do, I think your main focus should be to ask yourself “what will happen if I don’t do this and I never get to see what I’m capable of?” because if you’re not determined and focused enough now, you definitely will be after you have that conversation with yourself!

One Comment

Susan Crome

These are very useful answers to the questions. I have this as a favourite, so am prepared as I am about to send out my spec email. Thanks.

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