Rejection, in any setting, is difficult to swallow. For entrepreneurs, it can make or break you. A business plan rejection, a loan rejection, a partnership rejection – you name it. If you’re in the business of being a business, you’re sure to face rejection at some point. How you react to that rejection, though, is the key to making it as a successful entrepreneur.
As an entrepreneur myself, I’ve gone through plenty of rejections. In my 10 years of business, I have heard a lot more noes than yeses, especially early on. While it was humiliating at the time, I can now see that each rejection actually helped shape the success of my business today.
Here are four tips on handling rejection as an entrepreneur:
Don’t Take It Personally
Entrepreneurs often make the mistake of taking rejection personally. We all have feelings, after all. It’s important to note, however, that just because your idea got shot down or your partnership was rejected, it doesn’t mean it’s a reflection on you. Don’t let rejections get to you. Instead, look at the rejection for purely what it is: Was it a bad business plan? Was it the wrong partnership terms? Was it the wrong timing? Rather than blaming yourself, assess what the real reasons for rejection were.
Many of my early rejections would have put me out of business. Thankfully, I didn’t let it get to me and I was able to overcome these minor setbacks with even better outcomes.
Make It a Learning Opportunity
Chalk it up to an overwhelming sense of pride, but entrepreneurs can often sit down in a meeting thinking that everyone else is wrong. While there may be some truth to that, it’s important to learn from every rejection. If your software or product was rejected for a particular reason, take a second look and see if you can make your original idea better.
I’ve made great edits to our services and offerings thanks to rejection. By paying attention to feedback about what people really wanted and what they’re not interested in, we’ve been able to tailor our solutions to exactly what our customers want. It’s a win-win situation if you ask me.
Use It to Educate Customers
Oftentimes the reason you get rejected, especially in business, is because you haven’t educated your audience enough. In a world where there are so many “disruptors,” you have to know that the world may not be quite ready for your product or service. Take concerns that are brought up and use them as a means to educate the public or your customers about your idea, business or solution.
In my agency, we compile every rejection and use them as a means of educating ourselves. We create a variety of content to address common rejection points and use it to explain to potential prospects why we’re a good partner.
Take It as an Indicator of Where to Go Next
If you’re constantly hearing “no” from the same crowd, it’s possible that you’re trying to sell your idea, product or service to the wrong people. Take a second look at who’s rejecting you and figure out if this is the right audience for your product or service. Chances are you might not be targeting correctly.
When I first started my business, I thought my customers would be designers and other creatives. I soon realized that the people who really needed my help were business owners with a lack of resources to create an impactful brand.
Rejection is hard for anyone. When you’re running a business and an entire team is dependent on your success, it’s even more stressful. Entrepreneurs carry a heavy load. Rejection should not discourage you, nor should it end your dreams. If you pay attention, you’ll find that you’ll actually succeed in spite of those rejections.
This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective.com.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.