Learning to live with NO

He learned, can you?

NO is one of those words that can be really hard to learn. It can be hard to hear and it can be hard to say. For many entrepreneurs (or anyone) whose main goal in life is to help others this word can shatter dreams and/or can burn us out.

Learning to hear NO:

When any entrepreneur or general do gooder starts off on their path, just like I did, we are so excited and so focused on all the amazing things that we are going to do for the world that we never once really think about someone not jumping on our bandwagon. I mean why wouldn’t someone want to help me save all the bees in the world? Why wouldn’t someone want to help support young kids learning life skills by re-building old cars? Isn’t there an infinite amount of time and money in this world that people are just willing to hand over? As I built my first company and started putting it out there I heard a lot of no’s and faced a lot of shut doors. This crushed my spirit. I was devastated that someone didn’t like what I was doing or that they couldn’t see it in themselves to help me out. But wow did I get over that quick. The more no’s I got the more I pushed forward and the more drive I had to get my products and services out there.

No is a hard word to digest but one of the things I learned really early on and often tell other entrepreneurs I’m working with is that you have to follow up. Ask clients and customers why they are saying no. If you really want their business then you have to know why so you can decide to fix what is you have to offer or if maybe it just isn’t the right fit for you and them. If they say they don’t have the budget for it then ask them if they did have the budget if they would take it. I have worked with lots of companies who originally said no to me because they just didn’t have the money but as we found money together then we began working together and that barrier no longer existed.

Sometimes however, a no is just a no. You can’t dwell on it you just have to accept it and be determined to show them why they want to do business with you by showing them how well you serve others.

You have to knock on a whole lot of doors usually as you enter a market and one of the key factors to getting noticed in any industry is by getting out there and talking to tons of people. Simply going to 3 or 4 businesses with an idea and hearing no is not reason enough to give up. If you really believe in your ideas and you really think you can help then you have got to learn to love the word NO. Embrace the word no by allowing it to drive your motivation to do better.

How about saying NO:

When you start out you will look for anything. Anything that will put food on the table, that will help pay the bills, anything that will pay period. Maybe you didn’t have the dream of picking up dog crap off people’s lawn as you agreed to be their horticulturist (completely understandable by the way). This might be a great time to practice the word no. You might have to make a shift in a policy saying that you will not do any landscaping unless the lawns you are working on are free and clear. Believe me some people will be pissed by this but others will respect you and want to hire you even more. They will respect that you have boundaries and that you are willing to stick by them.  

Dev Aujla, Founder of Dreamnow and co-author of Making Good said to me many years ago when we were talking about things entrepreneurs should know, “follow through on 100% of the commitments you make by making less commitments.” A simple yet effective statement. If you want to win clients over for life and have them refer you to others then you have to deliver to the expectations that they have for you. That might mean sometimes you have to say no.

Of course there is always a proper way to say NO and here are some great tips from Zen Habits: http://zenhabits.net/say-no/

2 Tips:

  1. Take hearing the word NO as a challenge to make them sorry they said no. Be better than what they ever thought you could be.
  2. Saying NO can be powerful, it can be defining, it can help you from burning out. One of the hardest parts for any entrepreneur is learning our limits. How far will you go? Learn these limits early on, find the triggers that are burning you out. You will be impressed in fact with how well people will respect your ability to say no and to not commit to something that you don’t believe you can deliver your best work on.

So what are your limits? What will you say no to today, next week, next month that you can feel good about?

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One thought on “Learning to live with NO

  1. How do I live with no? It’s called alternate or contingency plans. If Plan A hits a roadblock, there’s Plan B. It’s a fact of life that not every answer is going to be yes, so it’s prudent to plan for the eventuality that you’ll run into a no, and to plan alternatives around it.

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