top of page
  • Writer's pictureKimberly Reuter

The Audacity to Say No

We talk a lot about how startups get it wrong….but is there a better way?

Yes! There is! And it is shockingly simple.

And at the same time, shockingly hard to implement.

To start – Everything begins with your customer. This is an original Amazon principle – Start with the customer and work backward.

Amazon started, succeeded, and dominated based on that single principle.

However, not all companies translate that simple philosophy the same.

For starters, YOU are not the customer. The customers are the people that don’t work at the company. I don’t care how much you spend at the company – YOU are not the customer.

“Start with the customer” purely translates to – Will this code/process/purchase directly add value to the customer experience?

If the answer is, maybe. The answer is No.

New office decorations? No.

Lavish parties? No.

Custom chairs? No.

Coffee bar for employees only? No.

And many will step up to argue…but if my employees are happy they will be more productive and that in turn improves the customer experience.

Hence, the strategic use of the word DIRECTLY.

Second, every decision must positively impact the bottom line – either an increase in revenue or a decrease in expenses.

If you invest a half million on a website, it better be because it drives customer spending by at least 2X. There are no cool points.

And lastly, DATA, DATA, DATA…and more data.

A wise old SVP of Ops once said in a C-suite meeting, “If we are all gonna sit around and talk about opinions, then my opinion matters most! So show me some data.”

And he was right!

Just because you have a title doesn’t mean your opinion is right. And I have taken down many big heads with a simple report and hard number. Looking at you L**** Trucking.

So, if all of this is so simple that I can explain it in 500 words or less, why do startups fail so often? Even when they –

Say they do it

Post about doing it

Make fancy wall art about it

Have parties about it (ding, ding, ding)

Because they lack one thing. The big D.

Nope not BDE


The rigor and grit to delay reward.

The passion to sit at a desk made from a door, planning one day you would be one of the richest people in the world.

The dedication to what is best for the customer above all pet projects, promotion propaganda, and budget buttering.

The audacity to say No!

You can’t get a degree in discipline. You can’t pump grit at the gym.

You don’t need money or pedigree. It is free to everyone.

You apply discipline. Liberally.

You make strategic decisions over short-term gains.

Reinvest in what matters the most: the customer.

And use data!


bottom of page