The last thing any entrepreneur wants to hear when asking an investor for money to get “the big idea” off the ground is the word “no.” “No” can be devastating. “No” means putting your idea on hold. It may mean having to shelve your plan altogether if that “no” was your real chance at funding.
Fortunately, “no” doesn’t always mean no but you’ve got to take action. Here are simple things you can do to turn a “no” into a resounding “yes.”
Let’s start with the simplest thing of all. So simple, in fact, that many people don’t even consider it. If an investor tells you “no” after hearing your pitch, there’s a reason for the no. Maybe it’s because you’re terrible at pitching. Maybe the investor previously got burned on an idea similar to yours and is reluctant to try it again. There could be a thousand different reasons for a rejection.
Unless you ask, you’ll never know. When you ask, you get an opportunity to turn the no into a “yes.” if you can address the investor’s specific concerns. That’s what entrepreneurship is all about: creating opportunity where there was none. If you walk away, you may literally be leaving money on the table.
Work to turn the “no” into a “yes.” The first step is to learn why you got a “no” in the first place. Ask why?. Armed with that information, the solution may present itself.
Lower Your Ask
Sometimes, it’s all about the money. You’re asking for $250,000 more than the investor is willing to put up. If you could find a way to do with less money though, you might be able to turn that “no” into a “yes.” Would she consider investing $175,000? This at least keeps the conversation going. Face it. Part of a loaf is better than no loaf. Be prepared to lower your expectations if and as needed. Your willingness to do so might be the factor that turns a “no” into a “yes.”
Here’s another way of looking at it: You’ve watched or know someone who has watched one of the TV shows where people buy houses. Invariably, a couple on the show will find a fantastic house, perfect for them in every way, except…one of the rooms is painted periwinkle or some other odd color that they don’t like. They reject the house. They say “no.” For the price of a couple gallons of paint, they reject an otherwise perfect deal on a house that often costs more than a hundred thousand dollars. What kind of sense does that make? “Nonsense.”
A savvy seller would offer two gallons of off-white paint to eliminate the objection, turning their “no” into a “yes.” Even better, paint the room a neutral color before ever put it on the market, but that would destroy the example. It won’t always be that easy to turn a “no” into a “yes” but it often is.
Offer Added Value
This means doing your homework and knowing who you’re talking to. You initially get a “no”, and you happen to know that the investor you’re talking to has run into some problems with another business he’s a partner in. If your expertise can help solve his problem, then you’re in a strong position to offer a trade. If he’ll change his answer and invest in your idea, you can help him solve whatever problem he’s having.
So, this is all about networking, something that an entrepreneur should never stop doing. The connections you establish and maintain over the years will serve you well and help you in ways you can’t begin to imagine now.
Often, we cringe from the word “no” and assume that an initial “no” is the final word. Sometimes this actually is the case, but don’t assume that. You may be able to turn the no into a yes if you’re persistent and brave enough to press forward. Even in the face of the dreaded “no” word.
You’ve probably read that persistence is a hallmark of the successful entrepreneur. True. Don’t simply walk away with your head hung low when you hear a “no.” This is your dream we’re talking about. This is your big idea that you want to make real. That’s worth fighting for, isn’t it? Don’t accept “no” as the final answer without a fight. If you won’t go to bat for your own big idea, who will?
“Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes.” -Eleanor Roosevelt