Getting Better At Saying “No”

Building a great product (and a great company as a result) means saying “no” a lot more than saying “yes”. Here’s some of the stuff I’ve learned we as founders need to say “no” to more often if we want to be successful:

  • You need to say “no” to all feature requests by default, until you understand the actual outcome people asking for this feature need, using a framework such as the 5 Whys (if 80% of your customers won’t pay more or get value from a feature, don’t build it)
  • You need to say “no” to candidates you interview just because they’re the “best of the bunch” and instead wait it out until you find the right person that’s the best fit for the role
  • You need to say “no” to trying to serve everyone in your market and focus on a niche or subset of the market with the biggest need for your product
  • You need to say “no” to being impatient and understand that you should always 2x the estimates of developers and 5x your estimates of how long it will take you to be “successful” (always a moving target, by the way)
  • You need to say “no” to short-term thinking and realize it takes 7–10 years to build a business that makes an impact and that anyone actually gives a shit about
  • You need to say “no” to raising capital just because it’s easy to do and because it seems like everyone else is raising, so “why shouldn’t I?!”
  • You need to say “no” to putting your business before your health (physical and mental), your partner and your kids — success becomes elusive if all you have to show for your efforts is a big stack of cash
  • You need to say “no” to employees (and investors, co-founders, etc) who bitch, moan, take you for a ride, under perform and expect you to fix all of their problems
  • And finally, you need to say “no” to your inner voice that tells you to quit every day, because if you can do that, you’ll have an insanely high chance of experiencing the type of success you’re dreaming of in 5–10 years from now, believe me

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 274,549+ people.

Subscribe to receive our top stories here.