When you hear the word, “No“, how do you feel? “No”, is arguably one of the most powerful words in our vocabulary and when people hear it, the feelings associated are usually negative. A prospective customer says “No” to a sales proposal, a potential investor says “No” to being involved in your company or a girl says “No” when you ask her out on a date. The common thread here is rejection.
However, “No” shouldn’t be treated this way as it can also be an empowering response from a small business owners and this two-part blog will explore both sides of the “No” coin for entrepreneurs: rejection and liberation.
Hearing “No” is scary right? And as small business owners, we take it personally; we start to doubt ourselves, our ability and our vision. Maybe people were right, I should jack it all in and just get a job. ‘No’ certainly, plants the seeds (“Acorns” if you will) of doubt and if left untreated, can grow into feelings of despair which cloud your judgement and can break you down.
Gain Some Valuable Feedback
But what if “No” was a good thing, a really good thing? That hearing “No” not only toughens you up but gives you a real indication that something isn’t quite right. Perhaps your product isn’t there yet, but with a few wee tweaks it will be, or the service a customer receives isn’t as good as it could be. The initial “rejection” or “feedback” alerts you to this, and by asking probing follow-up questions, you can really dig further to get to the crux of the issue quickly to limit any detrimental effects. So instead of freezing the next time someone says “No”, treat this as an opportunity to elicit more information from your potential customers and make improvements based on their feedback.
Never Say Never
Anyway, “No” really doesn’t mean “No”. It means “not at this time”, “make some changes and come back to me” or simply put, “try again”. I remember an incident a few months ago where I got a reply to one of the letters I sent out asking local Fife businesses if they’d like to be a part of the Entrepreneurial Revolution we are leading by sponsoring us.
The particular response was a very nicely put “No”, as the organisation involved already has a number of competing good causes it supports. I recall saying to my business partner, “Jerry, we’ve just received this rejection letter”, and without hesitation, he replied, “No, Kallum, it’s a try again letter!”. From then on, I understood that “No” actually meant, “try again” and I encourage you to think the same. And as I am a salesman and we’re still looking for partners to join us on our exicting mission to grow Scotland’s entrepreneurial culture, you can get in touch with Team Acorn here now to find out more!…
Go For No!
They say that small business owners permanently live outside their comfort zones and I think they’re right. This is an exciting place where personal development and growth occurs and to get here, sometimes you need to GO FOR NO! In other words, if you’re not hearing “No” on a regular basis, you’re not trying hard enough.
Playing it safe by not pushing yourself and your business forward is a bad strategy. It’s easy for me to write this line in a blog post but I also walk the walk, whether seeking forward-thinking corporate partners, selling our 20 Week Business Accelerator Programmes or our Acorn Business Bootcamps to Colleges, Universities and other organisations. I go for “No” by sending out lots of proposals, knowing that many will comeback with a “try again” response, and that’s ok. I guess it’s like fishing, the bigger your net, the more likely you are to catch some fish. Equally, you should’nt give up the first time the net comes back empty, persistence is the key here and many small business owners give up way too easily.
The next time you think you hear someone say “No” to you, what they’re actually saying could be, “make these small changes then come back to me”, “I’m not ready yet” or “try again”. Either way, you won’t know unless you push the boundaries by GOING FOR NO over and over again!