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The Entrepreneur's Two-Letter Money Maker: No

The Entrepreneur's Two-Letter Money Maker: No
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YES! It’s a positive word, bursting with energy, aggressiveness and forward motion. It’s a word that conjures up cashflow, clients, power and skyrocketing sales.

The word no, is viewed as the opposite -- a depressing word that shuts down opportunity and closes doors.

It’s time for a new perspective. Entrepreneurs make a mistake when they default to yes. Whether it’s new opportunities, memberships, meetings, partnerships or time commitments, entrepreneurs need to get better at saying no.

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No is a power move, an opportunity-enhancer, a limit-setter and an overall good idea. Saying no can improve your power as an entrepreneur, giving you more money, more potential and more of what you need.

Why ‘no’ is powerful

Many people think that to say no -- whether it’s to an opportunity, a client, a meeting, a task, or something else -- is to admit one’s weaknesses and limitations.

In reality, the word no is a sign of strength. It takes guts to say no. Here’s what saying no does for you.

  • “No” shows that you’re in control. A person who says no is controlling his or her life, schedule, bandwidth, energy, time and career. When you say no, you are expressing, “I am in control of my life.” Others cannot make you do something that you say no to. Try saying no and see what it does for your personal sense of power.
  • “No” shows that you’re confident in your capabilities. If you say no, it communicates that you know your limitations, your expertise and your personal capabilities. No one person can do everything, nor should anyone try to do everything. If you can demarcate your expertise with a few well-placed nos, it goes a long way in improving your credibility.
  • “No” is a sign of self-knowledge. The Delphic maxim “know thyself” is as true for today’s entrepreneurs as it was for the Greek philosophers. The better you know yourself, the more ready you can be to say and insist upon your no. As you mature in your understanding of yourself and your career, you’ll be able to say no with confidence.
  • “No” allows you to turn the situation around. When you say no, it allows you to turn the situation into a different kind of opportunity. For example, you can reply with a “no, but” and offer a different suggestion.

Saying no is difficult, especially when you view it as a negative. However, when you view your no as a sign of power, it enables you to say it more readily.

Every ‘no’ is an opposite ‘yes.’

Think about the word no in its opposite sense. Whenever you say no to one thing, you’re saying yes to another thing. There’s more to the no than the negative. There’s a whole positive side that we often overlook.

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Let’s say, for example, that someone invites you to become a member of their board. If you say yes, you are giving away time that could be invested in your business. You lose time by saying yes. If, however, you say no, then you’re saying yes to more time, energy and resources that you can give to your business.

The no to the board position is a yes to your business. Viewed that way, it becomes easier to say no.

Your ‘no’ sets limits.

The person without limits is quickly exploited. Judith Sills in her Psychology Today article, writes, “Wielded wisely, No is an instrument of integrity and a shield against exploitation. It often takes courage to say. It is hard to receive. But setting limits sets us free.”

You need to set limits in order to become successful. When you obliterate your personal and professional boundaries, you become vulnerable to burnout, to disillusionment, to stress and to the loss of personal control.

Setting limits is the only way to guide your life toward success. And the only way that you can set limits is by saying no to some things.

‘No’ isn’t rude -- it’s honest.

Too many yesses will ruin you. There is a limit to how often and how much you can say yes.

There’s a myth -- broken and worn out yet persisting -- that to say no is to be rude. In reality, no is a courtesy to other people, not to mention to yourself. When you say no, you’re being honest with the other person about your life.

Which is better, to say no and possibly be rude, or to say yes and not be able to maintain your commitment? Actions speak louder than words. The no that you say today will save yourself and others from a lot of grief.

Favor honesty over saying yes.


No is one of the entrepreneur’s most valuable assets. Your nos control your destiny, allowing you to track towards the things that truly make you successful.

By instantly saying yes to others, you are forcing your life into an artificial model. You are becoming what others request of you, not what you know you should be.

Be confident with your no and you’ll experience the success that comes as a result. 

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