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No Is The New Yes

18 November, 2010

As an entrepreneur one hears the word "No" very often. It is typically synonymous with indecision or as a tool for negotiation, depending on who is saying it. There comes a point where the sheer mention ofthe word can be annoying and frustrating. But, over time, one finds ways of addressing this fundamentalissue that any team frequently faces. The "No" brigade can range from potential employees, customers, investors, vendors and even family (in the context of entrepreneurship of course!).

I'll talk about allof them as part of a short series. These are some issues we have faced (and continue to face) while building our business, and some ways we adopt in turning a "No" into a "Yes". These may seem trivial to some, and may not work in every situation or for everyone, but hey, it 's definitely worth a shot!

When potential employees say no

We are back to the days of 2006-2007 where the options available to professionals are numerous, with salaries again going through the roof. The problem of adverse selection applies most to hiring, wherein, the people you most want to bring on board, have the most out of whack expectations, and hencethe word "no" will be heard most often from these individuals. Hence, the five steps we follow to preempting the "no" are:

(1) Engage with the candidate at the senior most level of the company i.e. Founder(s) when  the candidate comes to your office the first time, so that it demonstrates commitment

(2) Give examples of how quantum leaps in careers most often happen when someone is a part of a young, fast growing company; ask them why they wanted to come and interview with your company

(3) Make it clear that this is a bi-directional process where-in both parties need to figure out whether there is a fit will give them confidence of the progressive nature of the company

(4) Have an exhaustive interview process, which MUST include the candidate spending time on thinking about the business and their (future) contribution to it. This can be done through a process of getting them to create a business plan, presentation, financial model, product note, etc. (Many of the non serious types will get filtered out at the scary thought of working for a job interview )

(5) Once the process is completed, move fast in extending and closing an offer. The initial offer should be made by someone in HR, and if there are some reservations that are irreconcilable, pick up the phone and speak with the candidate yourself (i.e. Founder). It does wonders to an individual's confidence they know they won't be just another email address in your company after possibly taking a professional risk.

The above will ensure that in many cases the candidate is bought into your philosophy, working style and industry enough that "no" won't show up in the discussion.

One final thought if a candidate that says "no" after accepting an offer don't re-negotiate. You will not regret it.


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No Is The New Yes

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