The Best Answer a Startup Founder Can Get is “No”

Most Startups Fail Slowly, Because Most Founders Keep Searching for “Yes”

Joe Procopio
4 min readDec 15, 2022
image by wayhomestudio

As a startup founder, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the word “no.” But as I’ve gained more experience through the decades, I’ve learned to love “no” a little more. In fact, I’ve started to seek it out.

That’s because despite conventional wisdom, founders and entrepreneurs hear “yes” all the time.

Yes, you can pick my brain.

Yes, I’ll listen to your pitch.

Yes, I’ll try your product.

To be blunt, if you’re not hearing “yes” at least a little, you’re not trying hard enough. Or you’re trying too hard in the wrong places. Or your idea just sucks.

The thing is, someone needs to tell you one of those ugly truths. And you need to listen when they do. Success starts with learning. And learning starts with “no.”

Most Startup Failures Happen Very Slowly

Last week, a founder friend of a friend of mine came to me with a problem he couldn’t quite put his finger on, even though he had been living through it for months.



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building & GROWERS. Write at and More at