“No” is better than “maybe”

I have a friend who is a successful real estate developer in VA.  He’s been in the business since probably before I was born.  Recently he gave me some advice about business, a piece of which really stuck with me:  When you’re trying to do a deal, it’s better to get a “no” than a “maybe.”

A “no” is straightforward and frank.  If you’re lucky, it comes with reasons.  That gives you something to work with.  Maybe you won’t get the deal, but at least you’re having a conversation.

“Maybe” could be legitimate, but it’s also what you get when someone just doesn’t want to talk to you.  If they don’t want to explain, negotiate, or even give you feedback, they’ll tell you “maybe.”  Unless you get clear reasons for the maybe and some way to turn it into a “yes” (or even a “no”), you’re going nowhere.

This rings true for me, especially given how VCs say “no”.

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