Don't listen to those naysayers!

How to say no to naysayers

A while back I was talking to a woman who was thinking about becoming a Virtual Assistant and wanted some advice. She said: “I’m confused as to what to do at the moment. Full-time work is a safe option but the hours are too long for me now and I’m trying to run a part-time business too. I need help to figure out the best direction for me.”

I asked her how she would feel if the decision was made for her and she was only allowed to work full-time in a regular office job:

“I would feel disappointed and that I let myself down.”

That decided it – she would go ahead and set up as a Virtual Assistant.

She already ran a part-time beauty therapy business so VA’ing would fit around that perfectly. Her background was HR and recruitment so I recommended she tap her contacts to gauge interest and find out how they might use her to their benefit.

We also talked through her many other concerns – money, marketing, client management, websites, business cards…

But she still seemed a bit hesitant.

It turned out she’d been accosted by naysayers.

What’s a naysayer?

Naysayers are people who tell you that you can’t do something. They’re not offering constructive criticism or helping you prepare for the challenge ahead, they’re people who give you every reason under the sun why things won’t work out.

Sometimes it’s not even what they say – it’s the expression on their face or the way they throw doubt on your plans by looking at you like you’ve lost the plot.

They actually think they’re being helpful, but they’re bad to be around if you want to follow your dreams.

I think these people are subconsciously jealous and worried that if you end up succeeding,  it’ll only highlight their failure to follow their own dreams.

Whether they’re aware of it or not they’re trying to drown your ambition. They’re happy to have a life half lived and they want to keep you where you are.

It’s not about you

I hope you know that whenever someone criticises you or tries to rain on your parade, it’s never about you. It’s always about them.

You’re out of their comfort zone and they don’t like it.

“The way someone else perceives what you do is a result of their own experiences (which you can’t control), their own preferences (which you can’t predict), and their own expectations (which you don’t set). If your choices don’t match their expectations that is their concern, not yours.” James Clear

You’re the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with

I read this phrase in Jack Canfield’s literally life-changing book: The Success Principles (I set my business up within a week of reading it) and I can’t tell you how important it is.

If you hang around with negative people who never do anything new then you’ll most certainly become one of them. Their negativity will rub off until you can’t see the point of trying. After all, it’ll never work so why even bother?

If you listen to the naysayers you will never achieve your dreams.

Naysayers are everywhere. They’re often ‘well-meaning’ members of your own family who protest they’re only showing concern by advising caution or people you consider good friends who ‘only want the best for you’.

But there’s a HUGE difference between motivating and supporting someone and trying to stop them from achieving their full potential.

You only get one life and what’s the worst that can happen? You decide it’s not for you and you decide to do something else, that’s what.

Naysayers are like crabs in a bucket

Have you ever heard the crabs in a bucket story?

Apparently, if a crab becomes caught in a trap then it will climb out and escape. But if a whole load of crabs are caught in a trap (like a bucket) and one tries to climb out, the others will pull it back down.

And if it keeps trying to escape, the others will kill it and then eat it.

Now, hopefully, it will never get that bad for you and I won’t have to read about you on the BBC website but I think you get the message here.

Don’t get pulled back down into the bucket. Because bucket life sucks.

Give yourself the best chance to succeed

Being a freelancer is hard work and you’ll probably mess up a little on the way because that’s how life works. In fact, it’s when things don’t go to plan that you learn the most.

You’ll never become a bulletproof business owner unless you learn how to overcome challenges.

You’re never going to get everything 100% perfect straight off the bat. I mean, when does that ever happen?

Did you learn how to walk, talk, play chess, swim, ride a bike, drive a car – insert 1000 things you never nailed right first time here – on your first attempt?

Of course, you didn’t.

But if you swot up, do your research, learn from people who have done what you want to do and prepare for the journey ahead, then there’s no reason why you won’t succeed.

Nobody wants to be on their deathbed full of regret about what could have been so here are a few things you’ll hear from naysayers and how to respond.

Life is short and it’s for adventure and living – not for sitting in the slow lane until the end.

So surround yourself with positive, motivated, supportive people and try not to get in your own way or think that everything has to be ‘perfect’ before you start.

Because that isn’t how it works.

Also, don’t tell the naysayers your plans. Just do your own thing, follow your own dreams, make your own life, forge your own way and show them what success looks like.

Ready to set up your VA business?

If you just want to stop researching and get going then sign up for my DIY VA course and start your journey today.

With lifetime access and an incredible trainee-only support group, I guide you through the entire process. You can even pay in instalments.



Emma Guild

I’ve done so many courses in my time; accounting, web design, proof reading etc and becoming a VA sounds like a way of bringing it all together. My partner and mum just roll their eyes now when I mention a new idea, but I’m going to go for it anyway.


Dear Jo, thank you so much for the inspiration. I have been an executive assistant for the past 13 years and i dont feel like working full time anymore i have just decided to try VAing and your tips have really helpful. My problem is that i have no knowlege of any VA’s in my country and am scared i may not be able to get people to subscribe to my services. I have designed a flyer which i will give out to people and am trying to get a paid email account. I will apprecaite any advice from you. Thank you.

Joanne Munro

Hi Faustina, thank you for your message. My advice is to remember that you’re virtual! Read my post on 23 ways to market your business and my Guide on How to Get Clients also outlines the only thing I now do to get work. It has a 50% success rate so is a pretty good buy! Network too. Think “who is my ideal client and where will they hang out (online and in person) then put yourself in front of them. Your job is to think around the problem, be resourceful and find the people who will find your services valuable. Good luck! x


Hi Jo,
The advice provided is so true, and I am now on the road to surrounding my self with positive thinkers and doers. Thank you the advice is golden.

Tracey Preater

Jo, do you know of any market research (primary or secondary) that has been done for the VA business?


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