What Every Aspiring Entrepreneur Can Learn from Christopher Columbus

Next week we observe Columbus Day. Say what you will about the man’s skills as an explorer—even after four trips to the New World, he died believing he’d discovered a new route to Asia—or his mixed record dealing with Native peoples, one thing we can all agree on is that Christopher Columbus was a gifted pitchman and entrepreneur.

There are a few important lessons that every aspiring entrepreneur should know.

Perhaps some of you have been there before—standing in front of a roomful of potential investors, pitching your $1 billion business venture.

Now imagine the same scenario, except you’re standing before two of the world’s most powerful monarchs, seeking financing for a dangerous expedition into the unknown at a time when a good chunk of the population still believed the world was flat.

That’s precisely what Columbus did, of course, but did you know it took him seven years to convince King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to support his crazy idea? And before going to the king and queen of Spain, the preeminent venture capitalists of the 15th century, he had already been turned away by England and France.

That brings me to the first lesson:

1. Be persistent

Being persistent doesn’t mean never taking no for an answer. But facing rejection, while initially discouraging, can help aspiring entrepreneurs steel their resolve and motivate them to do better.