Find Some Naysayers


A common mistake that I see aspiring entrepreneurs make all too often is failing to find anyone who will challenge their idea. I addressed this in my review of Silicon Valley S3, Ep7. Affirmation from loved ones is often a sign of love and affection, not confirmation of a good idea.

An entrepreneur will show up in my office, or worst, in front of an investor, with an idea that has been coddled – because the only people he has pitched to are his closest friends and family. I don’t know too many moms who won’t say, “Oh honey, that’s a lovely idea,” no matter how dumb it actually is.

You want to get real feedback from your best friend? Next time you pitch her your idea and she says, “I love it. You should definitely quit your job to pursue this,” follow up with, “Great, will you be my first investor?” And then be ready for some serious backpedaling.

Here’s how you can get legit feedback on your idea:

  1. Tell your friends and family that you want Shark Tank style feedback. Everyone wants to be Mr. Wonderful.
  2. Find a quick pitch event like 1 Million Cups and get up there and pitch. I promise there is an opportunity to do this in your hometown sometime this month. This will do wonders to accelerate the development of your business. I can’t stress this enough. Pitching is hard AF. The more you do it the better.
  3. Find an angel investor, VC, or venture attorney through your network (try LinkedIn) and send them this email: “Hi, I’m [name] and I’m working on a business idea. I’m really looking for someone with a background like yours to challenge my idea and help me find the holes and flaws. Could I bring [coffee/sandwich/tea] by your office for 15 minutes to get your feedback? I’ll come by at your convenience and I’d be happy to make a donation to the charity of your choice as a thank you for your time.” You won’t get a no.

Being an entrepreneur is mostly about dealing with adversity and failure. Get used to it and turn every obstacle into an opportunity.

About the Author
Kevin Vela

Kevin is the managing partner at Vela Wood. He focuses his practice in the areas of M&A, venture financing, fund representation, and gaming law.

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