Why a firm ‘no’ is better than a weak ‘yes’

Earlier this month, I was asked to contribute to a year-long module focused on helping entrepreneurs develop their own paths. My specific installment concerned collaboration and how to identify strategic partners, part of which included an interview.

Collaboration is perilously close to becoming buzzworded to death, but it IS true that many hands make light work. A focused group of people with complementary talents and matching energies can focus their gifts on the attainment of a common goal. It’s a rush when it happens.

As I’ve moved into the solopreneur space, my inner voice has become more prominent (by either necessity or design), and as a result, I’ve become more in tune with honoring it. When you factor in the reality that time literally IS money for anyone who is self-employed, in order for us to be truly effective, we must be surgical in our “yes-es” and equally emphatic about our “no-s.”

As an entrepreneur, how can you gather these people to you? How can you attract likeminds who can help you achieve your goals?

The short answers?

• Be crystal clear about your strengths, abilities and energies
• Learn how to say no to tasks of which you may be capable, but will redirect you from your ultimate goal
• Learn to accept another’s no without taking it personally
• Know what you want and need
• Do your best to anticipate from the outset expectations and projected outcomes.
• Be willing to offer your gifts as they fit into the whole

One of my most formative experiences was attending Liz Strauss and Terry St. Marie’s conference referred to as SOBCon in 2009. It was there that I first heard of the concept of “building a barn” as it applied to a social media apparatus and community. Anything that has true, systemic and lasting value is a result of the creative inputs of disparate groups and voices. The success of WWDF is dependent upon trusting our community partners as they help us to identify and strategically invest in women who have made the choice to take ownership of their own lives.

If you wish to make something happen, you are going to hear “no” a lot. Make peace with this.

Don’t take it personally. Take the lesson from the no and move on to the next prospect/investor/partner.

Most people who are known as Decision Makers in their organizations operate from “The Known,” and the truly powerful are completely fine with the word no. No is an answer. People who spend an inordinate amount of time trying to bluff or to otherwise hide their imperfections ultimately cost investors time and energy, both of which are precious commodities.

When you hear a polite, but firm no, then you are working with a Known Entity. Hearing a wishy washy yes that never materializes is like living in limbo. Your plans will remain on hold or in stasis because your resources are nebulous.

Learn to release the weak yes-es. It will make room in your life for the right collaborator.

How have you managed your yes to no ratio? Do you find that some “maybes” pan out? How do you manage your “pendings?” What has worked for you when collaborating?


Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation) or “Like” them on facebook.


  1. Mila Araujo says

    Molly, this was a beautifully written and excellent post. I love your work with the Women with Drive , and I think what you’ve shared here is exactly what so many people need to hear. Charting your own path is difficult but with direction and goals to lead your way everything works out well! It’s good to hear your wisdom on the word “no” – thank you!

  2. molly says

    Hi Mila,

    How very kind of you to say; thank you. I am fortunate to have many teachers who share my journey.

    Building something from the ground up has enabled me to empathize with the women we serve. Thanks again for taking the time to add to the conversation. Best, M. :)

  3. says

    As I am a fan of COLLABORATION (I’m a co-founder of an association that took that word – in my native language – to its name: COLABORAÇÃO Associação de Consultores) I couldn’t agree more to what you write and share here with the world.

    Thanks for being there!

    (I hope you don’t mind me sharing your contents through my new tool – scoop.it – under the title ‘Mentoring & Coaching’)

  4. molly says

    Luis, that’s so very kind of you to say. Thank you so much. I am honored that you would share my thoughts with your extended community.

  5. molly says

    Ara, you are such a thoughtful individual. As I’ve followed you on twitter, I’ve come to see the depths of your insights. I have no doubts as to the impact your actions have and will have in your environments. Thanks for adding to the conversation here.

  6. says

    Thank you for your “short answers” list. It’s excellent advice I needed to hear as I embark on entrepreneurship. So far I’ve found that the “no”s serve to highlight the fact that my pitch has room for growth and clarity.

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