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
-Landing pages
-Social networks
- groups
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

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 ... 

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.

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

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,, (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

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? 


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. 

Cindy Riach Founder | Facilitator ► Founders Connect

February 15th, 2016

Thanks for trying on a different way of saying something, Nebojsa. My suggestion for you to deliver any sort of feedback works most effectively when it comes in a form of an offering. And the best feedback anyone can ever offer is the gift of your truthful, direct experience. Instead of: "Your idea is crap!" try on "When I hear about this particular [idea, strategy, thought], I notice that I don't like it." (Or "I have a weird feeling in my gut," etc.) Stay with an "I" statement instead of a "you" statement. Stick with what's true (a feeling or a sensation). You don't have to sacrifice honesty, while being responsible with your communication. I hope this helps!

Karl Schulmeisters Founder ExStreamVR

February 15th, 2016

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Wunschen sie, ich kann auf Deutsch schreiben. Jetzt werde ich in Englisch schreiben.

If you do not believe you can benefit the business.  Even if you believe they are dishonest. Martin Omansky's response is the correct one

 "Thank you for your interest.  At this time, your solution is not consistent with our investment objectives."

Now about business coaching and what people are willing to pay.

  1. you have a language problem.    You are not selling your product/service in Germany.  Because your clients are US, UK, AU, SA, CA etc.  you are selling IN THOSE COUNTRIES.  Yes your server is  located in Berlin, but your clients are not.   So you are not selling in Berlin.  You are selling internationally.

    If you want to sell internationally, ideally you need to speak thelanguage of the nation you are selling into (Mandarin in the PRC, Spanish from Mexico, Portugese from Brazil)  or you need to speak English bilingually (and if you are selling to USA, UK, CA, SA, Australia, it HAS to be English).

    Google Translate level of speaking is not enough.  Even for basic sales.

  2. You are offering business coaching.  Your value to the customer is your ability to demonstrate that you can guide them into doing business in Austria and Germany.   If you cannot communicate with them, you are not providing them with that value. 

    So I think part of why you are struggling with sales is that you lack the Bilingual English speaker that is one part of proving your clients that you can help.  After  all you say you can help with: Translation, on the spot meetings, B2B calls, event participation - and yet you do not have a native English speaker.

    That also means the other items you offer coaching on:  Social Networks - has limited value if your cannot communicate with your clients the nuances of why they should use werkenntwen  instead of

  3. You talk about coaching and the pricing of coaching.  It is true that they are risking $100,000 potentially.   However, for you to bring "real value" to them,  you need to be able to demonstrate to them that they will benefit at least 10x ROI from your coaching.

    Your whole approach to pricing is upside down.  You are looking at it as "If you are going to invest $100,000 paying $3000 -$5000 for coaching should be obvious"

    but it is not.   Because if I pay $3000 for help to get into a market, I expect AT LEAST $30,000 of market value.   In your presentation, I do not hear $30,000 of value, much less $50,000.
    1. I can find translation services for german in the USA.  Or even in Ukraine or the Baltics for much less than you charge

      just to show you three

    2. Facebook marketing and ads are pretty similar the world over.  So perhaps my product ad is not perfectly culturally adapted, but I can put up 30 different A-B testing ad styles for a month for the price of what you charge - and I will pretty quickly know what works or not.

    3. B2B calls, meetings, and event participation - there you are essentially offering to be a remote sales team.  Yet I do not see that your company specializes in "inside sales" or that you personally have much Sales or even Executive, CxO engagement experience.

I know that all sounds somewhat harsh.  But startups are tight for money and you have to present real and tangible value very obviously.   Clearly you are having difficulty with that.  And I think it would be unkind not to tell you very directly why.

You seem to have a good idea for a service - that is why you are getting a lot of calls and contacts.


You do not seem to offer very good value for the price you charge.   I think you need to take a very very critical look at what value you offer and what skill sets are missing from your ability to offer enough value for the price.

In the USA there is a saying:  Underpromise and over-deliver.

Right now I feel you are doing the opposite

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?