You are a positive, upbeat person; it’s what makes you who you are. In fact, you wouldn’t be where you are withoutNo button having proclaimed a large number of optimistic “YES-es!” Would it surprise you to learn that unless you can master the “NO,” your success will be limited?

Success in business is as much about “steering the course” as it is about a valuable product or service. So often, a great idea gets lost because the bright person with the idea couldn’t say “no” to the wrong partnerships, the wrong market, the wrong funding, etc.

Having been schooled in the value of “networking,” optimistic business people spend countless hours in lunch appointments, golf outings and “meet and greets.” Don’t get me wrong; networking is absolutely essential for any entrepreneur, but not ALL networking opportunities are productive.

Kevin was excited about the new line of golf head covers he had developed when he realized his new design was unmatched by competitors. He envisioned seeing his product at prestigious country clubs and public courses around the country. He joined a large number of networking groups to get the word out about his new product. It wasn’t long before Kevin was able to partner with a marketing firm with high hopes of seeing large-volume sales.

After many months, however, the dream was never realized. Kevin was disappointed and frustrated. Why had this happened? Kevin had thought that, as a novice in the industry, he couldn’t afford to say “no” to anyone who seemed interested in his product.

Kevin soon realized he needed sound advice in formulating a business plan, then he needed to “stay the course” with that plan, even if it meant saying “no” to a lot of well-meaning people. Interestingly, the new business plan relied very little on the kind of networking that Kevin had been doing. Instead, it focused on only a few key connections. In addition, the plan pointed him away from the kind of partnership he had created with the marketing firm, in favor of relationships with equipment manufacturers. He was glad he discovered the problem before it was too late.

As an entrepreneur, Kevin learned to draw effective boundary lines around his strategies to avoid distractions and non-productive efforts. Saying “NO” meant saying “YES” to a new and profitable future for Kevin’s business.

Chuck Chamberlain – ELP Editor in Chief