“The best business ideas often appear laughable at first glance.”  

In a recent podcast, Reid Hoffman, co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, sat down with Kathryn Minshew, CEO and founder of The Muse, a career development website. As the podcast begins, Hoffman starts by asking Minshew if she agrees with his theory, that “the best business ideas often appear laughable at first glance” 

 Minshew agreed. She stated that when she first started The Muse, she pitched her idea to investors 148 times (but who’s counting). She remembers times where she felt as though she was being laughed out of the room after meetings with investors, and while she does admit that every single no “stings,” she also points out that the “nos” are gratifying as well.  

Hoffman then began to expand upon Minshew’s concept of being grateful for the chorus of “nos” that all entrepreneurs will hear by stating a truth: “the very big ideas are contrarian because the contrarian is part of the reason why a bunch of large companies and competitors haven’t already done it.” In other words, the reason why you are receiving a “no” is because this idea that you are presenting is disruptive, and has probably never been done, successfully, before. A “no” means you have the space for success. Hoffman does note, however, that your idea might actually just be bad.  

The unfortunate part is that “nos” can sting and can wear away at your vitality. So how do we deal with rejection, and how do we deal with “nos”? 

Some people might just develop thick skin, others may crumble, but Hoffman gives a great piece of advice when it comes to dealing with “nos,’ which is understanding your competitive disadvantage and your differentiation from every other product and service on the market, and staying true to it; “once you’re certain of your competitive advantage, you’ll no longer feel like you’re waging a quixotic battle against conventional wisdom. You’ll feel like the world must eventually come around to your way of seeing things.” 

It is never easy to hear the word “no” over and over again, but at the end of the day, all entrepreneurs must stay true to their original mission in what they know, and what they have to offer.