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The Crucial Moment That Separates the Pros From the Amateurs When you pick yourself up after being rejected, you become a professional.

By Stephen Key

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


What motivates you to succeed? Personally, I hate to fail. I take rejection personally. I can't help it. I want to win. And I'm thankful for that. Because I've come to realize there are few qualities more important for entrepreneurs than resilience. Eventually, someone is going to shut a door in your face. Your efforts will fail. And you won't know quite where to turn. What you choose to do about it becomes a defining moment.

If for some reason your product does not sell, or your investors walk away, or all of the companies you contact for licensing consideration aren't interested. Then what?

Really, you have two choices. You can let rejection get you down. Or you can let it motivate you to succeed. In other words, you can choose to go pro.

Related: Why Overcoming Failure Is The First Step Toward Success

If you fail and decide to pick yourself up and keep going, that's when you become a professional. Every entrepreneur reaches this moment -- the moment when they have to muster up the courage to solider on. A little rejection isn't the time to give up.

My expertise is in bringing products to market. I want to draw on a few of my own experiences to explain what I've learned.

If a potential licensee rejects a concept you submit to them, don't simply throw your hands up in the air. Ask for feedback. First, thank them kindly for it when they give it to you. And then come back swinging, either by changing your concept to better meet their needs, or with an entirely new idea for a product. Most of the ideas I have licensed were rejected at first, and the same is true of many successful product developers I know. Once, after I was told a concept I had designed would not be able to be manufactured in paper, like I had pitched, I was able to redesign it to be made out of plastic. Then I licensed it to an entirely different company. The resulting product, an initial failure, eventually sold in Disney theme parks worldwide.

Winners come back swinging again and again.

Related: 7 Ways to Use Negative Customer Feedback to Beat the Competition

If no one is purchasing the product you've created and are selling, you can keep waiting, give up, or start asking questions. Is your price point off? Is your packaging effectively showcasing the benefit of your product? Ask retailers and your customers what's wrong. Their feedback is, again, absolutely critical. You have to get it. You might need to adjust your marketing materials just slightly. Or maybe you need to do more to create demand.

When I came up with the idea to change the shape of the guitar pick, I assumed images of women in bikinis would appeal to people buying picks. I was dead wrong. My initial designs were terrible, I discovered, after polling potential customers at local music supply stores. It was mostly parents buying picks for their children. My second set of designs, which included a skull and a ghoul, was a hit.

If you're able to get in the door, but can't land your pitch to angel investors or venture capitalists, find out why. What are you doing wrong? There's a reason you aren't getting any traction. Maybe your presentation is too long. Maybe you aren't a good salesperson. Maybe you just haven't found the right investors yet. Sit back and reevaluate what you've been doing, then take action. Don't let much time pass.

Early on, I didn't realize how powerful storytelling is and that I really needed to engage my audience by giving them something they could relate to. As a result, my pitches failed. Along with storytelling, I learned to anticipate fears. I knew one important investor was wary of my patents expiring. So I built a new patent portfolio to show them the way of the future, after researching on the internet the problems the industry was facing. You have to know your audience, and you have to do everything in your power to grab their attention very quickly.

Related: The Secret Weapon That Will Make You and Your Business Stand Out in the War of Ideas

You go pro when you don't let rejection define you. It really is that simple. Accept being rejected, ask yourself and others many, many questions about why it happened, think on it, and then chart a new course. That's all it takes! You can do this.

Every successful person I've ever met has failed miserably, and wears their failure like a badge of honor. Failing and finally succeeding builds character. There are no overnight success stories.

Are you going to let rejection shut you down or motivate you?

Stephen Key

Co-Founder of inventRight; Author of One Simple Idea Series

Stephen Key is an inventor, IP strategist, author, speaker and co-founder of inventRight, LLC, a Glenbrook, Nevada-based company that helps inventors design, patent and license their ideas for new products.

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