The Power of NO to Make You A Better Leader by @makedapenycooke

power of no

by Makeda Pennycooke | Featured Contributor

One of my favorite quotes is the saying, “No is a complete sentence”. There is a lot of power in those two little letters but when you’re an entrepreneur, and especially if you’re a solo-preneur, saying no often feels impossible.

I occasionally suffer from a severe case of FOMO that makes me want to say yes to everything. But I’ve learned that saying yes to everything means saying no to my long-term success.

I believe fear of missing out (FOMO) coupled with shiny object syndrome makes boundary setting in four specific areas critical for all entrepreneurs and business owners.

Your Business Objectives

Every great idea isn’t necessarily a great idea for your business. Being very clear about what you want to accomplish with your business will keep you from chasing the next big idea that you read about.

Setting the boundaries around your business objectives creates a simple filter for what you will and will not do. This doesn’t mean that those ideas aren’t good. It just means they aren’t good for YOUR business.

This will also help keep the “experts” and their opinions from becoming more important than the vision you have for your business.

I also want to include your objectives for social media here. Having a clear strategy for how you will use social media for your business will help keep you from getting sucked into the time void that social media can all too quickly become (see more below).

Your Schedule

When you’re an entrepreneur it is very easy to blur the lines between work and home. This has been one of my biggest challenges because everything feels like it has to happen right now and because I’m also a solo-preneur it means it’s my job to make it happen.

But, I’ve learned if those lines stay blurred for too long I become less effective. Firm boundaries force me to stay focused on the most important tasks in front of me. Items are consistently checked off my to-do list and I feel much more accomplished.

Try blocking out time for specific tasks. Set goals for what you want to accomplish in that time, then put your head down and get it done. Also, as much as possible, establish hard stop times for your workday. One entrepreneur I know has a ritual that she does to mark the end of her workday. She works from home so this helps her make the transition from work mode to home mode.

Technology and Social Media

This is a tricky one for most entrepreneurs because these days social media is an important part of running any business, online or brick and mortar.

But how many times have you lost an hour (or more) of your day scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest? Or lost time because you’re responding to emails all the time?

Set aside chunks of time that you post and respond to social media. Do the same with your emails. Only check emails at the beginning and end of your workday and turn off incoming email notifications on your phone and your computer.

If social media is a time sucker for you then you may want to consider outsourcing that to someone else so you can stay focused on what you have to do to keep your business moving forward.

The Company You Keep

Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. It takes a certain about of tenacity to do this work and not everyone will appreciate how hard it is. You owe it to yourself to spend time with people who get it and limit the time spent with those who don’t.

It has been famously stated that you are an average of the five people you spend the most time with. As you grow your business the people you surround yourself with become contributors to your success. Therefore, it is to you advantage to be intentional about those people both within your business and in your personal life.

Putting these boundaries in place may not be easy but I know it will be worth the effort.

Here’s to you learning to say no and rising into your greatness!


Makeda Pennycooke, Women’s Leadership Mentor and Coach

Makeda PennycookeMakeda Pennycooke is a mentor and coach specifically supporting women leaders. I have 15+ years experience leading and developing teams, including six years serving at the executive level. I believe women are being asked to play by rules that don’t work for them and many women feel stuck living a life that isn’t right for them. After spending too many years letting other people’s opinion decide how I should live and lead, I am now committed to empowering women leaders to redefine leadership on their own terms.

In my spare time, you might find me curled up with a book in my favorite recliner; wandering around in pursuit of beauty behind the lens of my camera; or attempting to further my budding relationship with yoga.

I believe chocolate makes everything better, and life should be filled with moments that make your heart sing. I love the ocean, sun-kissed days and a good cup of steaming hot tea (always tea, never coffee). I can be found sharing tips and inspiration for women leaders at Let’s be friends Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook

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