briq.mx was created with the purpose of disrupting the way people invest in real estate. We wanted to erase most barriers to entry for real estate and facilitate the asset class to the masses through an online channel. If that wasn’t ambitious enough, we chose to do it through a financial instrument that competes with large traditional financial institutions (real estate bridge loans). We’ve come a long way and, today, the outlook is promising due to our team effort, drive and positive mindset. A typical mindset for entrepreneurs. Curiously, the most cherished lesson I take from the past five years being an entrepreneur has to do with something that is not typically associated with entrepreneurship: the value of saying “no.”
Time is our most valuable and scarce resource. We only live once, there is only so much that can be accomplished in a lifetime (however, you’d be surprised how much can be done if you do it efficiently). Being an entrepreneur quickly teaches you that the capacity to solve problems is directly correlated to the amount of time you can spend solving them. When you start a company, everything or almost everything depends on you, which makes it harder to choose where to focus. So, the ability to choose where you focus your attention, is perhaps the most important skill an entrepreneur must-have in the early stages. In our case, the amount of time we spend analyzing investment opportunities is a good example of this. If we are good at detecting deals at an early stage that have potential to work, then we can discard (say no) the deals that won’t fly without dedicating precious time to them. This allows us to have more and better deals to fund and makes our business grow.
The entrepreneurial world presents itself with infinite opportunities. There are many paths to a goal, actually, and part of the entrepreneurial journey consists of exploring such paths and quickly discarding those that lead to a dead end. A good example of this is funding a venture. There are many alternatives, from friends and family, angel investors or venture capital funds. Being assertive on which source to approach and understanding the value proposition of each counterpart is essential for the outcome of a company. This will save you a lot of time (that can be dedicated to more productive things), but saying no when the fit isn’t right, or when incentives are not aligned, might be the difference between the company’s success or failure. Entrepreneurship is a hard task by itself and having the wrong partner or one that does not help or add value can be fatal.
Like most things, it’s easier said than done. But when you have to manage your time and all issues are urgent and important, or when you’re running low on cash and have an offer from investors that doesn’t necessarily have the value proposition you are looking for, saying no is particularly difficult. Furthermore, for some reason, in Mexico we struggle with saying no. Even to the smallest of things. We might lose time and resources, even get into complicated situations that would have been easily avoided with a simple no.
If you are thinking about entrepreneurship, I strongly recommend that you get comfortable with saying no, and even get good at doing so. If there was one single thing I would like to have had in the beginning of my journey, it definitely would be being great a saying no.