My Least Favorite “No”

I hate saying no. But, its the most common answer I have to give when an entrepreneur asks me if I’d like to invest in their business.

Generally when I say no, I try to give some context for why and feedback on how my concerns can be addressed. Sometimes its an insight into how I see the market evolving. Sometimes its a soundbite on what I’m seeing and hearing related to competitors. Sometimes its an execution or  product positioning trap I’ve seen previous attempts fall prey to. I can deal with these no’s better because I’ve at least formulated some rationale for them.

But my least favorite no’s are the one’s where I don’t have a lot of substantive feedback. It’s when there could be a big business. The product could have an audience. The team could even be well suited to execute against it. Even worse, I may really like the team. But there’s a problem: I just don’t care.

Yes, a market may be big, but I just don’t care about it. Yes, a product may be getting popular but I would never use it. Yes a team may be well suited to win a category, but I don’t want to work with them. These are my least favorite no’s because there’s no feedback I can give them that changes anything.

If you don’t have conviction around a market that I do, pivoting to chase it will fail. If you bend your product to suit my needs, but it goes against your vision, it will fail. If you try to become someone you’re not to convince me we’ll work well together, you’ll fail.

As someone who is only going to make a handful of investments a year, I prefer to back every check with cash AND conviction. I’ve found that my most successful investments are directly correlated to the conviction I have around the market, product and people. 

So don’t take it personal. The right investor for you is out there. Its not you, it me.