Beyond the Build


The Power of “No”

Over the years, I have learned the hard way that saying “no” can sometimes lead to just as much success as saying “yes.”

It’s human nature to want to say “yes.” We all wish to be positive and help, but sometimes knowing our own limitations or those of our company means certain business situations or opportunities are not for us. The wisdom of experience can be key here, and I have a few scars on my back to prove it.

This week, I was reminded of my lessons learned. I had been working on a project, something with a duration of maybe five years for the company, and it looked pretty good in the beginning. As I learned more and evaluated the players, it did not seem as inviting, so I made the hard call and said, “Not for us.” Maybe I made the wrong decision, but I made one.

The recipient was taken aback at first, but when I explained the facts, I think he began to understand. The simple truth is that when a potential customer leaves the room, you sometimes make more money than you would have otherwise.

We all have finite amounts of time in our weeks, months and years. How we choose to spend that time, either saying “yes” or “no,” affects us in different ways. The magic is knowing when to say “no.”





Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.