When starting a new business there is a lot of pressure to be successful. You may have risked your life savings to chase your dream, perhaps borrowed from family, or even gotten a loan or grant to grow your business. So when prospective clients come to you with a question, the natural reaction is to show them that you are an expert and try to give them a thoughtful, logical answer. But what do you do if you don’t know the answer? Can you tell them “I don’t know”? The answer is a resounding YES!!!
You can actually build your character in their eyes by admitting that you don’t know the answer to the question as long as you do it the right way. If the question is related to your field, you probably should know the answer anyway. So tell them its a great question and while you don’t have the answer today, you will get them an answer, and by when you will do it. Now you have set yourself up for your first win with the prospect by getting them an answer and delivering within the time-frame you promised. Plus, it gives you another reason to speak with them to open the door to a an engagement with them. Don’t however forget to get them an answer or you will lose all credibility with them and someone else will swoop in, answer their question, and get the gig. Even worse, NEVER make up an answer. You will get caught in this little white lie eventually and that will kill any possibility of ever doing businesses with them.
Just remember, its OK to say “I don’t know”.
Michael Giuffrida from Southington CT has been operating businesses since 1997. He is an experienced entrepreneur in business management, profitable growth, business valuation, mergers and acquisitions, and information technology managed services.
2 thoughts on “It’s OK to say “I don’t know””
Just recently read a book about this very topic called “Getting Naked”. Some times it’s better to admit that you don’t know an answer rather than try to fake an answer or just throw around terms to just get past it.
Thank you for great advice! Even after 20 years in a small business, I don’t have all the answers, but I get my clients an answer ASAP.