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Starting a new business? Make sure you say ‘yes’ to opportunity

Steve Strauss, Special to USA TODAY
Published 6:01 a.m. ET Aug. 19, 2020


Business was growing so strongly at the Montclair Social Club that the owner was constructing an event space in addition to the restaurant. The pandemic shut down those dreams. (August 3)

AP Domestic

The intersection of Covid-19 and the greatest economic downturn in almost 100 years is strewn with casualties: People out of work, businesses shuttered, families in crisis.

So, no, there is little good news to be had right now. But, that said, one silver lining is that new entrepreneurs, small businesses, even whole industries are being born right now. Necessity being the mother of invention and all, with so many people out of work and in need, one thing we can count on is that in a few years the ideas being hatched today will be the businesses that we will be frequenting tomorrow.

How do I know? Because that’s the way it works.

Consider: Launched during the Great Recession (in 2008-09) were Uber, WhatsApp, Venmo and Kickstarter.

And those are just a few famous examples. Millions of people will be starting new businesses in the next few years – some will be one-person shops and others will grow to become name brands.

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But either way, let me suggest that if you are thinking of starting a new business right now, there is one word that can make or break your new venture.

One. Word.

I’ve seen this word in action in the businesses I write about and in the entrepreneurs I interview. I’ve seen it work in my own businesses and in the businesses of people I admire.

So, what do you think it is?

Yes, that’s a tough one.

Businesses fail for all sorts of reasons, and rarely can it be attributed to just one thing, let alone one word. But, that said, it is equally true that this word really can make all the difference.

The word?


► “Can you stay open an extra 30 minutes so that I can make it there and pick up my laundry?” Yes.

► “I was wondering if I could pay you half now and half in 30 days. That would make my life a lot easier. Possible?” Yes.

► “Can I get some extra time off so I can take care of my kids tomorrow?” Yes.

Think about it. Would you rather do business with someone or some business that says yes or no? Exactly. Yes work. Yes is positive. Yes is yes.

Now, are there times when you need to say no, or have no choice but to say no? Of course. And it is equally true that there are people to whom you would rather no say yes. That too is understandable.

But in the end, yes works. Yes makes people happy. Yes is the answer a customer or vendor or partner or employee wants to hear.

And think about the ‘No’ business for a moment. We have all encountered those businesses and those people who seem to get a secret delight – or a little surge of power or something – by saying no.

Just today, I called an auto shop to get a quote on a tune-up for my daughter’s car. But even though I am a good customer, the technician simply refused to give me an answer. “Well, at least give me a ballpark price then,” I said. “No” he said. So yes, I made an appointment somewhere else.

Want to succeed in your new (or old) business?

Just say yes.

This piece expresses the view of its author(s), separate from those of this publication.

Steve Strauss is an attorney, popular speaker and the best-selling author of 17 books, including “The Small Business Bible.” You can learn more about Steve at, get more tips at his site TheSelfEmployed, and connect with him on Twitter @SteveStrauss and on Facebook at TheSelfEmployed.

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