Business Development · Business Strategy

How to politely say your business is not good enough?

Nebojsa Stojnic Independent Business Owner at Mikroevent

February 14th, 2016

Hi As English is not my native language ,I need advice .I am team leader and founder of mikroevent .
Our company is dedicated to promote and put on wheels mostly USA,UK,AU,SA etc based software /services company here in German speaking countries Austria,Germany and Swiss .
So we have online part
-Translation
-Landing pages
-Social networks
-facebook
-xing
-linkedin
-twitter
-werkenntwen
-meinvz
- groups
etc
Offline
Events participating
On spot meetings
B2B calls
When we have stared we have idea to take only projects that we are believe it can bring a benefits to our clients and by benefit I mean $$$$.

All of as have more than five years experience in penalty and critical teams where our jobs was to detect and terminate any scams,bogus jobs,fraudulent behavior etc .

It was like 200+ "clients " like this on weekly basis ,also a part of them was not scammers they just have a bad idea ,or business model .
Now when we are independent . A lot of honest and hard working people would like to present and sell product /service on EU market ,unfortunately lot of them have will to invest money only in sales and get immediately $$$$
You know that is not possible in order to sell something in today's world you need to have a quality ,and low price .

I would like to say to the people your idea is crap it will not bring you anything except headaches ,do not loose your money and time try with something else or with different approach .

I have more this "kind" of business than I have expected ,and behind some of them are relay nice people just with out experience or knowledge !

My question is how on polite way to tell them ,your idea is crap,sorry ! Try something new

Varun Mehta CEO of Disqovery

February 14th, 2016

I get where you're coming from. I advise a number of (earlier-stage) startup founders, and here is what I usually do:
  1. Assess the founder's coach-ability. Not all founders are created equal. Some are open to advice, and some are not. A little stubbornness is vital to success, but too much is a problem. I can typically assess a founder's coach-ability within a few minutes of learning about their business and asking a few probing questions. Pay attention to when/how they become defensive, and use that to make determination of how to proceed. You get better at this with practice.
  2. If they're coachable, coach them. If you can keep your clients on a successful path, then you'll be more successful, as well. Right?
  3. If they're not coachable, it's up to you. A clothing store lets anyone buy any item, as long as they have the money. However, you need to make an economic and personal decision on whether you want to work with them or not. What is it worth to you? Is all of this just a distraction?
Remember that you don't know everything, even if you know a lot. You have an opinion, and you might be right that the businesses will fail, but you can also be wrong. Keep an open mind, and you might run into clients that surprise you.

Joe Albano, PhD Using the business of entrepreneurialism to turn ideas into products and products into sustainable businesses.

February 14th, 2016

OK - you seem well-meaning ... so perhaps the issue is not whether or not your business is "crap" ... even you have said "we are not putting anything to a real test".

Maybe the best response is something like:
  • We're choosing not to work with you
  • Your business does not fit our criteria
  • Based on our experience we don't think we can help you
  • We're not confident that your business will work in our market because ...
Just a few thoughts.

Some people will be able to use your feedback to improve their offering or try something new. Others will have to live through the agony of defeat ... 

Brynne Tillman Transforming the Way Professionals Grow Their Business by Leveraging LinkedIn & Social Selling ►Learn How in My Summary

February 14th, 2016

Great question, they key is to get them to say it. You have to be a resource of education and the best way to do that is to talk about customers like them. Talk about the risks or challenges you see and ask if they can relate. Sent from my iPhone

Joe Albano, PhD Using the business of entrepreneurialism to turn ideas into products and products into sustainable businesses.

February 14th, 2016

Hummm - 5 whole years of experience and you're going to be able to separate the FaceBooks from the MySpaces ... what would you tell yourself? 

Martin Omansky Independent Venture Capital & Private Equity Professional

February 14th, 2016

As investors we have the same problem. In our industry, investors turn down deals all the time by sending back a polite note that does not address the quality of the deal, but rather says that the project is not "consistent with our investment objectives." This is a polite lie, but leaves no room for further discussion. I don't think it is your job to critique the product or the company. Best policy is to be polite but firm, and not get into substantive details. Sent from my iPhone

Scott McGregor Advisor, co-founder, consultant and part time executive to Tech Start-ups. Based in Silicon Valley.

February 14th, 2016

A great way to approach this is to ASK if they are interested in hearing your advice and opinion, as someone who has seen many startups fail and some succeed. Most often, people will say yes when asked. But if they say no, that's on them so honor their choice; you can't save them from themselves anyway. If they do say yes, be gracious about stating your opinion nonjudgmentally. Don't say "your idea is a piece of crap." Own your opinion and don't try to masquerade it as a fact; say something like: "In my opinion your business faces serious challenges as it is currently structured and you will have to pivot or you could lose everything. Would you like to know more about what I think are immediate threats and how I think you might respond to make your company more successful." If you just think their idea is crap and you can't even offer suggestions to fix it, limit yourself to saying, "I think your company faces major challenges, unfortunately I am not a business coach and can't tell you how to fix it. but I really want you to succeed, so I hope you can find some one knowledgeable who can advise you." Scott McGregor, mcgregor94086@me.com, (408) 505-4123 Sent from my iPhone

Joe Albano, PhD Using the business of entrepreneurialism to turn ideas into products and products into sustainable businesses.

February 14th, 2016

Perhaps I misunderstand your business model. I interpreted what you wrote as "we look at your proposed business and tell you whether it is 'good enough'" - do I have that correct? 

Anonymous

February 14th, 2016

I've been in a similar position where entrepreneurs or managers approach me with either app or film ideas. After hearing their ideas, I basically tell them why it won't work: too much competition, too expensive with no ROI, doesn't have an audience, etc. 
But don't leave it there, I provide alternative solutions and sometimes coach them (if feasible) into a better direction or business. 

Joe Albano, PhD Using the business of entrepreneurialism to turn ideas into products and products into sustainable businesses.

February 14th, 2016

I agree with the sentiment expressed by Martin Omansky. One of the great challenges of the entrepreneurial ecosystem/community is capacity building. 

This raises all kind of issues about proprietary information, the value of knowledge, appropriate qualification, and what is within the scope-of-work, how each party is fairly compensated, etc. 

Too often, parties to an endeavor do not clarify their relationship from the outset … this clarification is frequently relegated to the “soft skills” bucket and gets little more than lip service. 

Irwin Stein Very experienced (40 years) corporate,securities and real estate attorney.

February 14th, 2016

As an attorney, no one ever payed me to keep my mouth shut or to be polite. Advice only has value if it is honest advice.  And you cannot only tell clients what they want to hear. If I think that an idea can executed differently I say so. If I do not think the idea will ever be commercial, I say so.  If I think the entrepreneur is a scam artist, I caution him that breaking the rules or taking money from investors under false pretenses has serious legal consequences.  I have defended companies that broke the rules after the fact, but I never helped a company in the middle of its scam.  And if a deal is just crap, what kinder, more professional thing could you do to any entrepreneur than offer that opinion before they put their guts into it?