Ending Soon! Save 33% on All Access

Know the Power of a "No": An Important Lesson for Entrepreneurs Try to understand the reasons why you might end up saying "yes" when instead you should have said "no"

By Hiren Shah

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


As a startup, you will come across numerous opportunities to explore more ideas and do more things. This is true even on a day-to-day basis. As an entrepreneur and as a head of business, you are expected to do a host of tasks – attend multiple meetings, networking, staying updated with the latest trends through web surfing, news reading, staying up all night, and the list goes on.

Many times, it might get overwhelming and you might not be able to deliver the best. The solution? Learn the art of saying NO. Building a great company and a great product involves paring away everything that's currently superfluous and concentrating all your time, energy and resources on what's absolutely essential for the company's growth.

Is it Possible

By saying yes to everything, you not only run the risk of getting diverted from your current priorities but also load your plate with more problems. Here's a simple example – when you say yes to a client's request for an out-of-the-box feature or modification which is not currently in your product pipeline, suddenly it becomes your problem to find those extra resources to rethink the product, incorporate and integrate it with your existing features, modify the product accordingly, and so on. As a startup, you have limited access to resources. It is wise to choose where and on what you utilize them.

There are many reasons why you might end up saying "yes" when instead you should have said "no". This might be because of the fear of losing out on an opportunity, to avoid hurting the other person, inability to set your priorities or a fear of rejection from the other person in the future.

Setting up Goals

Decide a clear vision and goal. Be firm on what you want to focus on. As an entrepreneur, if your goal is only to drive sales, then saying no will become hard because ultimately, you're not making the product decisions. All your decisions will be driven in the direction of increasing revenues. Saying no might be hard, but it is certainly not impossible. You must focus on confidently delivering solutions in your own domain of expertise and on the way it will change people's lives. Once you are clear with your goal, it will be easier to say no. Saying yes to everything will only strain and drown you in the day-by-day operations. That is the primary obstacle to growth and success, and one of the major causes of failure.

Now, the easiest and the best way to say no is to explain the reason for saying a "no". Instead of saying a blunt "no', say something like "That's actually a great idea! I'd love to do that. However, currently, our focus is on…" or "Let's revisits this thought once we're finished with our current priorities. It is important to keep the team focused, so let's not interrupt their progress right now." The key is to not be blunt, but also to ensure that you pass on the message very clearly.

Give it a Go

You might also need to say "no" to doing things if you are doing them just because everyone else around you, say your competitors, are doing so. Evaluating the feasibility and the necessity of your specific situation is important. For instance, if everyone is raising capital through funding, you need to say "no" if that's not the best way ahead for your company. You might want to explore other options like bootstrapping or getting listed on a stock exchange like NSE Emerge that supports your startup's growth.

And most importantly, you need to say "no" to that inner voice, which tells you to quit every day. If you can do that, then you have a high chance of reaching the great heights of success you dream of, in a short duration of time.

After all, success is not about doing EVERYTHING RIGHT; it is about doing ONLY THE RIGHT THINGS RIGHT.

Hiren Shah

Founder, Vertoz Adtech & Martech Business Group

Business News

Apple iPhone 7 Users May Be Owed a Slice of a $35 Million Settlement — Here's How to Claim Your Share

Previous (and current, no judgment) iPhone 7 users may be entitled to up to $349. The deadline to file a claim is June 3.

Business News

Did OpenAI steal Scarlett Johansson's voice? 5 Critical Lessons for Entrepreneurs in The AI Era

Did OpenAI steal Scarlett Johansson's voice? OpenAI has since paused the "Sky" voice feature, but Johansson argues that this is no coincidence. In response, Johansson delivers a masterclass for entrepreneurs on navigating the AI era successfully.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Side Hustle

These Brothers Had 'No Income' When They Started a 'Low-Risk, High-Reward' Side Hustle to Chase a Big Dream — Now They've Surpassed $50 Million in Revenue

Sam Lewkowict, co-founder and CEO of men's grooming brand Black Wolf Nation, knows what it takes to harness the power of side gig for success.

News and Trends

Gurugram-based Wealth Management Firm Finvolve Closes Maiden INR 100 Cr Fund, Launches Two New Funds

Finvolve also announced the launch of two new funds, pre-seed Accelerator Fund and Scale Fund, including a GIFT city, with an investment capacity of around INR 500 crore to widen its investment spectrum: Accelerator, Seed, and Scale.