“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” – Warren Buffet
This might surprise you: Successful entrepreneurs say “no” a lot. We’re taught that we should say “yes” to almost everything in our society, yet the most successful among us say “no”. Everyone from Warren Buffett, to Oprah Winfrey, and Steve Jobs reportedly say “no” to several everyday things. Most importantly, those no’s skyrocket their success.
Here are ten things successful entrepreneurs say “no” to.
1. They Say “No” To Opportunities for Opportunity’s Sake
Entrepreneurs are constantly being approached with opportunities. Business opportunities, networking opportunities, opportunities to get their products or services in front of new eyes, opportunities to take on new projects and partnerships, etc. However, successful entrepreneurs say “no” to almost all of the opportunities presented to them, because saying “yes” to an opportunity you aren’t excited by carries an “opportunity cost”. We have a limited amount of time and resources to spread around. If you’re not excited by an opportunity, it’s not an opportunity — it’s a responsibility.
“Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best”. – John C. Maxwell
2. They Say “No” To Networking
This might come as a surprise. You’ve heard that you’re only as powerful as your network in school before. You’ve seen networking events in your community and online where you are told over and over that networking is the king of your career. So how can successful entrepreneurs say “no” to networking?
Well, networking is superficial. When you are “networking”, you’re not doing much more than swapping business cards. When the people you’re “networking” with walk away, they hardly remember you until you follow up with them. It’s very much a “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” mentality. However, successful entrepreneurs don’t network. They build relationships.
People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Unfortunately, you don’t necessarily trust some person you met in your “network”. You trust people you have relationships with.
3. They Say “No” To People Who Don’t Energize Them
Have you ever heard the Jim Rohn quote, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”?
Well, it’s true. In fact, studies have shown that you are actually far more likely to be overweight if your best friend is overweight — even if they live hundreds of miles away. That’s why successful entrepreneurs say “no” to spending time with anybody who doesn’t inspire, challenge, or energize them. Life’s too short – and business is too important – for people who drag you down.
4. They Say “No” To Being a Workaholic
Have you ever laughed and called yourself a “workaholic”? I know I have. And it was completely accurate. I worked so much and so hard that my marriage almost shattered into pieces.
Working yourself to the bone is no way to run your business or your life. That’s why successful entrepreneurs say “no” to workaholic-ism. Most of them started off working themselves silly, and didn’t see their businesses take off until after they’d taken a step back. Why? Because self care is so important. You can’t be a workaholic and take care of yourself and your family properly at the same time.
5. They Say “No” To Laziness
What does Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, and Anna Wintour all have in common?
Besides being among North America’s most successful, they all work out. See, fitness provides a healthy dose of antioxidants and feel-good hormones to your brain. This increases creativity and focus. As a huge bonus, working out also helps you sleep better at night. Successful entrepreneurs are all highly creative, focused, and (of course) well rested. They understand the impact their physical health has on their mental and business health. They say “no” to laziness (most of the time).
6. They Say “No” To Unhealthy Food
Someone once said, “You are what you eat”.
However, the reality is that the quality of the energy you put in your body determines the quality of energy your body outputs. Successful entrepreneurs understand this, and nourish their bodies (and brains) with healthy whole foods instead of fast food and junk. Successful entrepreneurs say “no” to junk-food, and “yes” to diets full of healthy, whole carbohydrates, proteins, and especially healthy fats.
As Tim Ferris said, “A diet that skimps on healthy saturated fats, robs your brain of the raw materials it needs to function optimally.”
7. They Say “No” To Doing the Work
“Do the work!”
You hear that over and over again, especially as an entrepreneur. We entrepreneurs like to maintain maximum control over our businesses, so we end up wearing many hats. But to say “yes” to being everything to your business is like saying “yes” to mediocrity. When there’s somebody else who can do a job more efficiently than you can, and who enjoys it more than you, saying “no” to that work allows you to focus on what only you can do for your business. Successful entrepreneurs say “no” to doing the work that they can outsource or delegate.
8. They Say “No” To Priorities
How many priorities do you have on your plate right now? 2? 4? 6?
It may be time to review those priorities. After all, successful entrepreneurs say “no” to priorities. They say “yes” to one priority — singular, not plural.
“The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities.” – Greg McKeown in Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Prioritizing more than one thing in your business means that you prioritize nothing. You shouldn’t have priorities. You need a priority.
9. They Say “No” To Motivation
Do you rely on motivation to get things done? Maybe you’re one of those lucky people who are always motivated. Or more likely, you get a lot done when you have a lot of energy or a new idea. However, successful entrepreneurs say “no” to relying on motivation. Instead, they build habits around the important tasks they need to get done every single day. Once you say “no” to motivation and “yes” to habits, you get important work done on autopilot. And your work never suffers from demotivation again.
Build habits instead.
10. They Say “No” To Everything…
…Except their one focus.
Successful entrepreneurs know what they need to get done, and say no to everything else.
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” – Steve Jobs