Saying “No” to Projects

As an eager entrepreneur, you’ll be asked for your opinion/participation in a number of projects. Initially, it’s a good idea to say “yes” because you have no idea what that project could lead to down the line. You never know which opportunities could open the door to another, better opportunity. You just don’t know, so you just can’t risk it.

I was recently approached about joining with some guys in starting another record label. A local Portland musician has a growing following and an awesomely loyal group of his friends and confidantes want to help push him over the edge into stardom. They’d heard about my experience in the music industry, KMD Music, and my eclectic skill set, and they wanted me to come on board.

I was flattered, so my immediate response was “I’m in.”

tumblr_nh8cywxuI21rt7qgbo1_500Then reality set in. Where was I going to find the
time to run a record label? I’m finding it hard enough to keep my ducks in a row as is. Based on my experiences with KMD Music, there are a ton of things I would do differently if I had the chance. This could be that second chance, but more importantly, if I was to make those changes, I would need that much more time to ensure I did those things correctly. And what about the things I’ll be learning about, and dealing with, for the first time along the way? Is this learning bell curve really something I should commit to right now?

When you say “yes” to something, you are promising your best involvement at any cost. That’s why they ask you. You will execute on your tasks to the best of your ability, but what if your ability isn’t what it should be? I know music. I know music business. But I don’t know Portland’s music scene. And I haven’t been active in the music industry for almost ten years. A startup podcast network is one thing, but running a record label in a music scene I’m completely unfamiliar with is an entirely different challenge. Quite simply, it’s asking for failure.

It’s not that this new record label is going to fail per se (although statistically speaking…), but my real hesitation is more about a failure to achieve my own standards of work. I, like you, take pride in my work and always strive to put my best effort into something I put my name on. Your best work requires your full attention, desire, and commitment. If I don’t have a full blown desire, I can’t be confident in my work product because I won’t give it my full time and attention. It all starts with desire and passion for the project.

So I’ve come up with a good barometer for involving myself in new projects. I have to believe, in my core, that my best work will benefit the project in a way that only I can provide. If not, I gotta pass.

So I’m saying “no” to the record label project for now. Do I feel bad about it? Kinda. Will I regret it? Probably. Am I interested in hearing about the next project? Absolutely.

When have you had to say “no” to a project?



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