The Most Powerful Word an Entrepreneur Can Use

Every business decision is a risk. Remember that you always have the option to say “no”.

Being an entrepreneur is unlike any other profession. It takes dedication, courage, relentlessness, insight, and often times pure luck. Depending on where your company’s growth cycle is at, your most valuable commodity as an individual is most likely your time (even above money). There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for you to accomplish everything you need for your business. And ironically, the more employees you hire to ‘free you up’ from day to day tasks, the less time it seems you end up having to actually spend on meaningful duties.

Every entrepreneur learns very quickly that time is not on your side.

There is a way to control this feeling of powerlessness with one simple word. This word is not easy to wield, and usually requires years of frustration before an entrepreneur learns how to use it wisely. This word can save you thousands (and millions) of dollars in wasted expenses. It can prevent your dream from going bankrupt.

So, what is the most powerful word an entrepreneur can use?
You probably guessed it by now: NO.

The word ‘No’ is the most potent word you possess in your professional (and personal) vocabulary. It can save you from hours of time-draining meetings or sales pitches. It can prevent your company from going off-track and pursuing opportunities that do not fall in line with your vision.


Saying ‘No’ is not easy. It’s actually incredibly difficult for the average person. It’s why pushy sales people still exist, because the people they are selling to feel too embarrassed to reject them with a ‘’No’.

That’s what makes it so powerful. Not everyone is comfortable using it, especially when it causes awkward situations where you reject someone you know.

When an entrepreneur first sets out on their vision to start their business, the word ‘No’ is almost never an option for them. You are desperate for any sort of wins, no matter how small. You need all the help you can get. No is not a part of the equation. And with good reason. The only way for a startup to succeed is to be open-minded and flexible, understanding that what you set out to do may end up being completely different from what makes you successful.

The power of ‘No’ tends to come into play when a startup has gained a little traction and proven to have some sort of lasting potential. This is where you begin to be presented with different opportunities that seem like home runs at first glance. A friend of a friend approaches you with an idea of how your business could go to the next level if only you could do this and that instead of what you do now. At this point, you’re still in the startup mindset where ‘Yes’ is the predominant part of your vocabulary. However, to be successful, you need to start incorporating the all-powerful ‘No’. Not just in your vocabulary, but also in your internal decision making process as well. Not every opportunity that comes your way is a good one. Not every person is worth taking time to network with. Not every potential customer is worth pursuing.

A few years ago there was a small, but successful, CPG manufacturer. One day they got approached by an online retail giant. The immediate reaction was to do whatever they asked because this opportunity would make the company rich. However, what they didn’t understand was to play with the big boys, you take big boy risks. 2 years later the company went out of business because it could not handle the tight production timelines that the online retailer demanded.


No one is clairvoyant. Every decision you make has some element of risk involved. Sometimes, ‘Yes’ is the best answer. Sometimes ‘No’ is. The key is to take a moment to decide before you simply automatically respond ‘Yes’.

Like everything in life, the key to success is balance. By no means am I advocating that you shout ‘NO’ from the rooftop and reject every single idea or proposal willy nilly.

No, the purpose of this article is to expedite your decision making evolution as an entrepreneur. Before you say ‘Yes’ to something, take a moment to really evaluate the pros and cons. Be willing to say ‘No’ to people and to opportunities IF you decide its not right for you and your business. It could end up saving your business.


Every decision is a risk. In business, the objective is to minimize that risk as much as possible. So, how do you do that?

It’s simple. By creating a formal Decision Criteria Matrix that you and your company can fall back on.

Don’t know how to create it? We can help!

Contact us at for a free consultation.