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Starting a Business

Turn Rejection Into Momentum

Don't allow the fear of rejection to stop you from taking risks.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the October 2009 issue of Start Up. Subscribe »

Entrepreneurs are trailblazers, risk takers. As such, they understand that rejection becomes part of any business routine. Even in good times. As the economy tightens, small-business owners are finding that negative responses are getting more frequent. But don't let rejection keep you from moving forward; instead, use it as fuel to accomplish even more.

To succeed, you have to possess the confidence to embrace rejection as part of the give-and-take of your business strategies. When you are not the winning bid on a deal, investigate your business processes to improve your chances the next time. Do not let negative feelings associated with rejection affect your ability to manage and grow your business.

Developing a positive attitude in spite of rejection is a habit you must work on. The best way to start is to go for deals even if you feel you may not win them. Completing the bidding process helps you figure out new ways to present your products to different entities. Do not let the fear of rejection stall your initiative. Remember four important points about being rejected:

  1. Rejection is not personal. Rejection hurts because of the meaning we assign to it. A negative response can indicate that you were selling to the wrong audience or not conveying the right message. Salespeople who take rejection personally lack perseverance, and they seldom make the sale. People can reject your idea, product or service for any number of reasons, but they are not rejecting you as a person.
  2. Learn from failure. Every project you undertake provides numerous opportunities for feedback that can improve future prospects. Losing a deal is part of conducting business. Immediately take responsibility and identify what worked and what can be improved. Ask about their biggest reason for rejecting your proposal and how you can improve in future negotiations. Was the customer looking for different benefits? A more detailed pricing structure? Did requirements change? Then, work with your colleagues to design new methods to correct that issue.
  3. Reframe rejection into a new opportunity. The passion to win deals is an important aspect of being an entrepreneur. If rejection occurs, go for what I call a double no. Circumstances and requirements constantly change, so treat any no as a maybe. Analyze your prospective customer's responses, conduct more research and develop an innovative method to help him achieve his goals. For instance, you may specialize in a particular piece of the project. Develop a new proposal aimed directly at your area of expertise and resubmit it.
  4. Be adaptable. No matter how mature your business is, there will be challenges. Be willing to adapt your proposals with new information you cull from your rejections and successes. Treat each rejection as practice for winning your next deal. Share what you learn with your colleagues. Doing so will inspire them to share even more ideas with you.

Do not allow the fear of rejection to stop you from taking risks. Tenacity and persistence always triumph over adversity. If rejection occurs, use it as a catalyst to gain momentum toward your future success.

Speaker and consultant Romanus Wolter, aka "The Kick Start Guy," is the author of Kick Start Your Dream Business. Write to him at

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