The lesson I’ve learnt, being prepared to say no

Learning to say noWhen I started out, I had no experience running a business and my company Digital Voices didn’t have one specialism.

I knew I needed to have a regular flow of work, therefore I said yes to any work linked to social media. This was a mistake and on reflection, was largely down to a lack of confidence and desire to please other people.

When I was saying yes to every job linked to social media, I thought I was doing the right thing. In reality I devalued Digital Voices by being a freelancer rather than a business that could solve one problem at scale. I wasn’t respecting my time, which meant clients didn’t either.

The eureka moment was when I realised I had to be comfortable with making myself uncomfortable. Key to this was taking risks and embracing the word no. I had to turn down work that I didn’t really want and risk failing or disappointing people. Changing my perspective on this was key. I needed to ask myself “Who are the people whose opinions I’m so bothered about? Why would their opinions ever mean anything to me?” Saying no stopped being so scary then.

Part of learning to say no was based on setting goals and not being afraid to fail. In order to say no to something you of course need to know what you are saying yes to. For me integral to this was focusing on YouTube. It’s where I had expertise and I am genuinely passionate about working with entrepreneurial creators. I realised that in order to build a successful, scaleable company I needed to focus on a specific problem. For us this is helping brands understand the incredible engagement and power of YouTube creators and support these creators as entrepreneurs.

Three years later, we have a team of 13 and have witnessed growth of 600% year on year. It all started from embracing the liberation of saying the word no.

About the author

Jennifer Quigley-JonesJennifer is the Founder and Managing Director of Digital Voices, an Influencer Marketing agency in London. Founded three years ago it has just made its first £1m. Before founding Digital Voices, she worked at YouTube with UK creators. Digital Voices works with clients like Rolls-Royce, the Royal Air Force and Island Records and recently the NHS recruiting staff back to the frontline. She believes in making content that your customers want to watch, not ads they want to skip.

Whilst at Google, she taught UK creators and brands to grow organically – without spending money on advertising. The role involved data analysis to strategically advise brands on video – at the cutting edge of media and advertising. 

Prior to YouTube, she completed her Master’s at Harvard University in Middle Eastern Studies, on a generous full scholarship from the Kennedy Memorial Trust. Whilst there, she specialised in the Syrian crisis and worked with many non-profits and social enterprises, including the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations. 

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