Failure and Rejection in Startups: 3 Things to Remember

Suffering from a recent rejection? Guess what? You're in good company.

learn more about Sam Zebarjadi

By Sam Zebarjadi • Apr 14, 2015

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Human nature tells us to fear failure and rejection -- whether we experience these emotions in our relationships, at work or in school. But as entrepreneurs, we're wired a little differently. To us, every use of the word "no" is an opportunity to hustle a little harder, stay up longer, work faster and turn that "no" into a "yes."

Related: 7 Ways to Think Differently About Fear

And it's not just the hustle that separates successful entrepreneurs from the unsuccessful ones.

An entrepreneur's success depends on having the right level of readiness for the challenges and rejection that lie ahead, and for remaining unequivocally focused. As you continue in business, keep these three tips in mind:

1. The overnight success stories the media highlight are not the norm.

Entrepreneurs sometimes have marred visions of how difficult it actually is to build a successful company. In reality, we're optimistic, overzealous and gleefully naive. Failure can happen. In fact, most new businesses and startups fail. So, don't fall victim to sensationalized stories in the media about billion-plus dollar exits or news of companies raising astronomical amounts of capital. These stories can be discouraging for founders, but they need to realize that success doesn't come overnight.

Founders also need to realize that getting a press mention or raising capital should not be an end goal, but just one step in the journey.

2. Don't worry, you're not alone.

Everyone gets rejected. There's a famous story that surfaced a few years back about Pandora: Tim Westergren, Pandora's co-founder, shared how the then-startup was rejected by VCs over 300 times before finally closing funding. There are literally thousands of such stories of both large and small companies facing rejection in one form or another -- whether it occurred in raising funds, acquiring or retaining customers, hiring rock star employees or negotiating acquisitions.

Related: How to Combat Your Fear of Rejection

The reality is that rejection is everywhere, and in the world of entrepreneurship, it can come in many different flavors. It's important to handle rejection gracefully, listen to feedback and forge ahead even more strongly.

3. Celebrate the little wins.

In difficult times, even the smallest wins can feel like big victories. Take the time to celebrate and reflect on all the hard work that led to your success.

Little wins can add up, and more importantly, they give you motivation to keep going.

Related: How Young Entrepreneurs Can Rein in Their 'Toxic' Emotions

Sam Zebarjadi

Co-Founder & CEO of Medicast

Sam Zebarjadi is an expert in mobile, consumer and enterprise technologies with over 12 years in the wireless industry. Prior to co-founding Medicast and taking on the role of CEO, Sam spent six years at Nokia as Chief Architect, designing and deploying large-scale consumer services with 25+ wireless carriers in more than 20 countries. Previously, he played an integral role across a series of technical and business-related activities for the $36bn Sprint-Nextel merger. Zebarjadi currently serves as an advisory board member to several growth-stage startups and is a mentor to 500 Startups, Four Athens and The Iron Yard startup accelerators.

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