Rejection is like advice: It’s often unwelcome (and even irrelevant), but coming from the right person, can change your life.
In my previous business, we started off with a home run – we raised money from our first business plan and our first attempted pitch with a venture capital firm. In fairness, this was off the back of many, many failures.
After our first year, we decided that we wanted to raise further funding, so I started pitching our business all over the world to various venture firms.
All of them said no
I faced more rejection in six months than I had in my entire life. Firm after firm, country after country, face after face, one thing was consistent: The word ‘no’.
What I didn’t realise then was that we were rejected for the right reasons by smart people and that my business was in need of traction, revenue and time to grow. Sometimes, rejection is a necessary part of pushing through and building a great business.
It’s not always easy, but there are three key ways to manage rejection: Understanding it, embracing it, and sometimes, ignoring it.
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1. Understanding Rejection
One of the key things about facing rejection is understanding it. Sometimes it comes from a good place and great people. Other times it can come from horrible individuals who have no clue about anything and just want to be mean.
It’s important to grasp the difference between helpful and harmful rejection. Helpful rejection comes from people who have relevant industry expertise, are empathetic and provide constructive feedback alongside their rejection. A flat out ‘no’ isn’t helpful.
It’s also important to understand your own business, vision and revenue model. If you believe that the path you are on is right and that your plan is working (or about to start working) push forward.
2. Embracing Rejection
Many of the most prolific companies in the world right now started off with people rejecting them and thinking that their ideas were crazy.
Uber faced initial resistance because investors believed that the existing taxi companies would never be displaced. Airbnb started off as a small company renting out spare couches and beds in people’s houses. Today it’s taking on the world’s largest hotel companies. Back in 1995, Newsweek published an article stating that the Internet will never change the world.
Here’s an extract from that article: “The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.”
How far we’ve come. Sometimes the best thing you can do is realise that rejection is based upon pre-existing ideas that are destined to be broken down and if you’re the one to push into the future, you’re definitely going to benefit from embracing the rejection you received early on.
3. Ignoring Rejection
There’s enough in the daily grind to get you down, so staying positive is an imperative part of pushing forward in the face of rejection. That’s hard to do when your potential customers, users and investors are telling you that they don’t want to use or invest in you.
At this point, the one option left is ignoring rejection. If you have users, revenue and your business is growing, chances are you shouldn’t worry too much about rejection. Take it in, understand it, and then ignore it.
Resilience is one of the key traits of great entrepreneurs. Having the determination to ignore people when they tell you’ll you’re crazy is something you have to do at every turn. Get used to rejection and continue building what you believe in.