Can Entrepreneurs Embrace the Power of No?

How fast can you learn to say no today?How fast can you learn to say no today?

When you think of successful entrepreneurs, do you think of people who are constantly saying yes to opportunities? I’ve discovered that most entrepreneurs that I work with have a big secret. They are incredibly effective at how they use their time. They know how to say no!

No surprise if you’re an entrepreneur, to be successful we’ve learned how to manage our schedule. I believe you need to learn how to say no more often. 

My best client breaks his time into 15 minute increments. If you get a meeting with him, you have 15 minutes to make your case. These entrepreneurs secret is they get more control of their schedule by saying no most of the time, they only say yes to a small portion of the opportunities they see. I thought it might be helpful to share their secrets when deciding where they invest their time and money.

The first secret of the power of no is getting better at saying, “Let me think about that.” By saying you want to think about it doesn’t always mean that you are indecisive but that you value your time more than others do. I have one client who says that there is always a better deal down the road but you have to keep open to it. This philosophy has allowed him to accumulate over 10 billion dollars in his lifetime. It’s funny the most successful leaders I know are slow decision makers. However when they finally make their decision, they put all their energy into it assuring success in the projects they choose to work on.

Most entrepreneurs spend time seizing opportunities and evaluating risk.  How many times have you said an immediate yes instead of evaluating your options? You look back on your decision and realize you should have said no from the start. Take time to decide what you want to do and what things are important to you and your organization.

The second secret of the power of no is that you must have clearly defined mission, vision, and values for yourself.  You will feel incredibly powerful the more you know about what you want to do with your life. By becoming clear about your vision and what you want to invest in the more likely you are to be able to make a better decision when asked to do things. To be a successful entrepreneur, you must be willing to not seize every opportunity that comes by you and your organization. This allows you to develop a stronger organization and increase your organization’s strengths so that you can grow faster.

The third secret of the power of no is that you must become good at changing your position without allowing your ego to dominate your decision making process.  Many leaders I’ve worked with are able to change their minds when new information is presented to them. The great entrepreneurs and leaders I have worked with never get too emotionally involved in their decision. They make a decision and wait to see if the conditions change over time. Their team members understand as situation changes they should be providing their leaders with new information. These leaders ask and expect their people to always provide them the truth. They do not penalize the people who give them the bad news. This provides a culture where yes and no have equal weight in the decision making process.

This is not always a trait that is portrayed well by individuals who are not responsible for making critical decisions for their organization.  The best leaders I know are incredibly flexible when it comes to making decisions; this includes both yes and no.

The final secret of the power of no is great entrepreneurs are very good at keeping themselves surrounded by people who are going to provide them with complementary skills so they can make better decisions. When you surround yourself with people who can provide you with different points of view, you are able to make better decisions faster. 

It also provides you with the confidence to say no. The best leaders understand the better people they surround themselves with the more quickly they can seize opportunities and reduce risk for their organizations. So when will you begin embracing the power of no? See you next week.

Article originally posted on Market Leadership Journal

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