In entrepreneurship, I have learned that there is a fine line between passion and insanity. My insanity started at a young age when I built my first business, an online marketing agency that catered to the real estate market, when I was seventeen. It bombed after the 2008 housing crisis and I went completely broke.
About 20 companies later, I've finally found a business that I am super passionate about. I didn't get here easily; I fought through decades of 80-hour workweeks full of personal loss, severe anxiety, and a bad case of imposter syndrome,
Towards the end of 2018, I took a step back and took a deep look at issues facing my life. The problem wasn't money, passion, or work ethic; it was overcommitment. I found myself spiraling towards burnout because of one word: yes.
After committing to some serious soul searching, I decided to do something different and say no to everything that was not 100 percent in line with my business and life. Here's what happened:
I Found the Most Amazing People
Admittedly, I was afraid of pissing people off; saying "no" is a difficult thing to do. I found it especially difficult to turn down invitations to speak at events and joining business ventures because I was afraid of being seen as someone who did not want to help others.
However, I have learned that the kind of people who get upset with you for politely saying "no" are the kinds of people you don't want in your life. When you stop interacting in a world filled with superfluous drama, you make room for more tangible moments to attend to.
On the flip side, the people who unconditionally accepted my unavailability made it very clear that they would wait for me. They put forth the effort to work with my schedule, leading to some wonderful business and personal relationships.
Saying "no" significantly increased productivity and led to me finding some truly great friends in the process. Cutting through the noise allowed me to hire the best COO I've ever worked with -- a total game-changer for any entrepreneur.
My Team Grew Closer
One of the many problems I faced during my "yes" days was a stressed team tasked with sifting through all "yeses" I couldn't turn down. They were overworked, stretched too thin, and didn't have my full attention. Now, in the height of the "no-days," we are now a laser-focused team that works in perfect harmony. Our product is better, our people are happier, and our clients keep coming back.
My Business Made More Profit
Time is the largest investment you will ever make and it is something that you will never get back. When I started saying "no", my time-management skills skyrocketed, allowing me to take a long look at the bottom line of the business. It is extremely important to focus on profit growth as opposed to only revenue; it's a controversial stance, but I stick by it.
When I stopped bringing in outside businesses not worth my time, my product got better, leading to a significant rise in profits. We were able to renegotiate deals that were previously overlooked due to the noise of over-committing, significantly growing our margins in the process.
I Found My Purpose
I always assumed that being a "yes" man would portray me as the type of passionate guy I see myself as in real life. The reality is that it's quite the opposite. Saying "yes" disconnects your focus and hides the real opportunities in front of you.
Saying "no" helped me say "yes" to what really mattered to me, and all it took was some self-reflection. I took stock of what was important in my life, made an ad-hoc inventory of my business needs, and drew out a focused plan of how to grow in an intelligent manner.
Saying "no" not only freed my time for my business to thrive, but it also gave me the space I needed to have a more fulfilled personal life. In 2019 I met the love of my life, got engaged, developed a closer relationship with my family and got my anxiety under control. I am now a more well-rounded human being who has the time to commit to the types of things that I'm actually passionate about.
Needless to say, saying "no" changed my life.