The 4 Blessings Of “No”

A little over a year ago, one of my mergers and acquisitions clients was eagerly awaiting an offer for her healthcare business.  She had already planned how the proceeds would be used for her family dreams while funding new professional opportunities.  Her specific expectations were dashed by the buyer’s actual offer – it was over $1million less than she had hoped.  Devastated, she told me that she was angry at the potential buyer who “did not appreciate how much work it took to build the business.”  After some reflection, she decided to re-invest herself in her current business for up to a year, eliminate one unprofitable source of revenue, “lean” her operations, and return to her old role as the lead on marketing.  Ten months later she received a much better offer and the transaction moved forward.

When someone says “no” to your offer to the marketplace (“I have something to sell”) it may or may not have something to do with you personally.  But that’s usually not the most important thing.  More often, a “no” response is based on the perception that you’ve either limited your value or the value proposition in murky, or both.  Given this scenario the blessings of “no” may be multiple:

  • A rejection can help you to return to clarify your values and the purposes of your action.  In this case, the business seller realized that her family life was #1 and that this would be central to future business decision-making.
  • Tactics are in the service of values and overall strategy.  The “no” this seller received led her to re-evaluate her market strategy (more focus on a core group of activities vs. rapidly expand market share) and employ marketing actions that supported her invaluable niche position.
  • “No” can open your eyes to new opportunities.  When she re-assessed her market position and strategy, she discovered new options, including one area that a competitor had abandoned and that was important to some existing customers.  Her response strengthened her market position.
  • Rejection can accelerate progress.  After the initial negative feelings, the owner was excited about a new approach with increased clarity about her goals.  In less than a year she had made remarkable progress and received an acceptable offer.

While your circumstances may vary, people who take time to understand and recalibrate after “no” are often some of the most attractive business people in the marketplace.  Why?  They’ve had the courage to take on honest look at themselves and convert that understanding into effective action.