Rejection is part of the game; so here’s how to deal with it and move on


There’s no time for sensitivity as an entrepreneur. If you’re to stand a chance at being successful in your venture, confidence should be ingrained in your character – confidence in your own ideas, decisions, and of course, ability to deliver upon them. But guess what? It’s everyone else’s job (for the most part anyway) to put you through your paces; whether that be your clients, customers, investors or competitors – you will be scrutinised, criticised, and rejected. And this is fine – because this is normal. Even the most successful business people have been handed the dreaded ‘no’ vote many times in their career. But what makes the difference between them and those who throw in the towel? They have the stamina to take the knock-backs on the chin and move on. That’s all. 

Ben Harvey, founder of one of Australia’s leading training organisations, Authentic Education, says it’s about “how we cope and manage that rejection that will set us apart in the long run to achieve success, whether in life or in business.”  

Here’s some tips from Harvey to help you move onwards and upwards with your start-up or small business after receiving the ‘bad news.’

Don’t self-criticise; stick to your guns

Tempting as it is to beat yourself up after a rejection, don’t. And, more importantly, don’t try to figure out ‘why,’ simply accept that it wasn’t the right time, or fit, and move on.

Use rejection as a way to refocus your idea and remember the core of your business should be to serve your customer, because without them, how can you possibly be a success? The only way to truly experience rejection is to put your needs before the customers. Business is about making the lives of your clients better by solving problems for them. So stop thinking about yourself, and start focusing on changing people’s lives and you will never be rejected again!

Realise rejection is progression, not regression

Consider each rejection a clearing out of blind spots – the more you’re rejected the more you can fine-tune your goals and improve yourself. With that said, give yourself time to process the let-down, then dust yourself off and figure out what’s next on the to-do list. A no is simply just a step towards a future yes, so use it to your advantage. 

Anchor your idea 

Identify who your customer is and be clear on the ‘why’ behind your product and how it will add to your customer’s life. Use your core customer to help you design your product, reality-check and continue to improve.

Celebrate success, no matter how small 

Punch above your weight and imply that you’re bigger than you are. While you might be growing, it’s all about perception. Everyone wants to back a winner, so if people can see the success you’ve had – whether at a trade show, via your social media or through your PR efforts, potential investors will be more comfortable doing business with you.

And, if your efforts don’t always pay the dividends you expect, don’t lose yourself in the ‘no’. So many people I coach see themselves as incapable, lousy and even worthless. Don’t allow yourself to enter that downward spiral, the key to handling rejection is to maintain control and get back on the horse – what better way to celebrate a success than overcoming a challenge.

Strength in numbers 

Find companies that share your values and core customer profile and create value added partnerships to promote one another. Become part of a movement that is bigger than one company and more powerful than any rejection that comes your way.