It will never work! It’s a waste of time! You’re spinning your wheels! I already tried that! They’ll never go along with that!
These are not exactly the words that inspired entrepreneurs want to hear as they tirelessly pursue their responsibilities, their goals and their livelihood. I’m not sure what motivates folks to say such things. They may be repeating what they’ve heard others say, they may be speaking from experience, perhaps they’re trying to protect us from ourselves or maybe they’re just uncomfortable with change. I tend to think it’s more of the latter. It certainly can be wearing though. After all, it’s usually the entrepreneur taking all the risk and calculated risk is part of any success formula.
Change is inevitable. Competition comes and goes and customer needs change. Market demand increases and decreases. When opportunity presents itself, in any form, whether born from your own creativity, evolved from a competitor’s circumstances, triggered by a change in customer preferences or presented by an entity that stands to profit from your cooperation, beware the naysayers. Heed your instincts and ‘keep saying yes to the opportunity until you have a good reason to say no!’
A few examples: a local furniture store was facing more and more competition from new entrants to its market…mainly larger regional and national companies. These new entrants were driving prices down and the local store had a choice; meet or beat the lower prices and sacrifice profits or offer customers something so unique that price would be a secondary consideration. The owner’s extraordinary solution – unheard of at the time…‘buy it today, get it today.’
‘No way that we can make this work,’ ‘we’re not set up for this,’ ‘we don’t have enough storage space,’ ‘we only have two delivery trucks.’ Imagine, that was the blowback from the store’s own employees. The owner could have folded but didn’t. Instead, he kept saying ‘yes,’ and sought out resources that were able to help him overcome the obstacles that others feared. And the postscript, sales (and profits) increased no less than 20% each of the next two years as buyer’s remorse, traditionally experienced due to the lag time between purchase and delivery, was neutralized.
And from my own experience while CEO of a manufacturing company: a major Japanese firm contacted us hoping to end their working arrangement with one of our stateside competitors and to buy our technology as a replacement. While in Japan as part of a preplanned trip, one of our shareholder directors met the Japanese company’s CEO. His conclusions were much like those of the naysayers. ‘We can’t sell our technology,’ ‘we can’t risk having our intellectual property compromised’ and, ‘we can’t even think of shipping our product to Japan – the freight cost would be prohibitive.’ Along with the senior management team, I kept saying ‘yes.’ We invited the executives from the Japanese company to visit us in the states and by the time they left we had a technology licensing agreement, paired with a shared approach to development of products and manufacturing techniques; and…we didn’t sell our technology! As far as I know this agreement continues in some form to this day, now almost twenty years later.
The point—if in fulfilling our commitment to preserve and enhance the enterprise we allow ourselves to yield to naysayers whose arguments are loud but without merit and against our better judgement, we fail both the enterprise and ourselves.
Lesson learned—it can be lonely at times but be positive and keep saying ‘yes’ until you have a good reason to say no!
Read more: The Skills Of Being A Good Listener