Published: August 12th, 2015; by Judi Hughes

Steve Jobs, the founder and eventual saviour of Apple, was quoted as saying:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundreds of good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to thousands of things.”

So why is No so powerful? Because it gives you permission to stop doing what you shouldn’t be doing so you can focus on the few initiatives that will bring success to your business.

Businesses that try and do everything rarely succeed. To stay with the well-known Apple story. When Steve Jobs returned to run the company it was in dire straits; it would probably have failed. The company was working on hundreds of projects developing a wide array of new products. He spent his first few months cancelling projects and saying no to new projects. He eventually whittled them all down to 4 key product developments. The rest is history.

Saying No allows you to get better and better at the things your company is already good at. It controls scope creep in projects like designing a new website. It prevents the company chasing shiny objects that are found to be very dull when caught. Starting with the premise of No ensures thorough discipline in the evaluation of new ideas. No does not prevent innovation and growth; it helps the business owner to follow the right innovation and growth path.

The power of no is very evident in strategic planning models like the Rockefeller Habits; it limits company’s priorities to just five. Phil Libin, CEO of Evernotes, focuses the company on only one major strategy each year. This requires strong discipline from the leadership team. It is far easier to embark on exciting new initiatives than saying no to them.

As business owners we must learn to say NO! Otherwise our focus will become fragmented and that leads to mediocrity. We will have a company that swims with the tide but never quite makes it to shore. We will become tired and frustrated. Success will elude us. So make yourself a large sign that says “I am proud to say NO!”

I will leave the last words to Steve Jobs: “Deciding on what NOT to do is as important as deciding what to do.”

Do you have a vision for your business? Read this article about the benefits a strong vision will bring to your business.