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How To Deal With Rejection As An Entrepreneur

Rejection can sometimes invoke other emotions like self- doubt, shame, and failure, so it’s important to create a positive mantra or a safe space to house and nurture those emotions, in order for you to recover and move on quicker.

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I had just started college and needed a job to finance my education. Wearing my only suit, I went with 100 resumes in my hand, door-to-door, up and down the Empire State Building in New York, knocking on every office door, asking for a job. I had no prior job experience, but I was eager to work and willing to learn. It was a life changing experience because, while most turned me down, politely, or showed me the door before I could speak, my confidence and lack of fear managed to get me two job offers. At the time, the fear of rejection was not even in my mind. However, as we get older, our fear of failing increases, especially when the risk could mean a bigger loss. But it could also mean the opposite: the risk could be worth a very big reward. 

As an entrepreneur, I am used to building a company from the ground up. I am all too familiar with the hustle and what it takes to succeed: having to take chances, make sacrifices, and being told ‘no’ often, be it from the bank when asking for a loan, or a client turning you down. Prior to starting my own businesses in the tech and the beauty industries, I worked numerous jobs and wore many hats. One of my first jobs was cold-calling customers, many of whom would hang up before I could even speak. I would call almost 300 people before getting 1 ‘yes’. 

It was in these earlier roles that I learned a lot of lessons and soft skills that prepared and helped me become the entrepreneur I am today. The biggest lesson of all was how to deal with rejection. These were some of the tips I learned that helped me overcome my fears and grow my business:

1. Stop and reflect: Take some time to embrace the rejection and any other emotions that may ensue. Many of us tend to internalize and obsess over what could’ve been done differently, focusing on the negative and why we aren’t ‘good enough’. It’s important to acknowledge the pain and nurture our bruised ego. Once the dust settles, we can approach the next task or obstacle with a clear head and even, a fresh outlook. 

2. Make it a lesson or teachable moment: When we approach rejection as we would a school lesson, like learning the ABC’s, it’s easier to manage our emotions, and know how we can improve and do better when we face our next obstacle. Whether it’s asking for feedback from the client or company that rejected you, or using a journal to record what you learned from the experience and what you could fix the next time.

3. Rejection as a motivator: As the old saying goes, “you need to fail in order to succeed”. Treat this experience as a way to light the fire in you and push you through your next challenge. Remember, it’s not personal, it’s business, so if you want to grow your brand or company, you need to persevere and keep going. 

4. Positive self-talk: Language matters, and how we talk to ourselves, whether it’s positive or negative, can have an effect on how we think and feel. I remember when I was in fifth grade and my teacher taught us to look in a mirror and repeat positive affirmations. This not only helped dealing with difficult emotions or situations, but it would also re- energize and uplift my mood. Rejection can sometimes invoke other emotions like self- doubt, shame, and failure, so it’s important to create a positive mantra or a safe space to house and nurture those emotions, in order for you to recover and move on quicker.

5. Travel: While visiting a new country can be fun, it can also be a bit challenging. We need to adapt to new climates, cultures and languages that may be unfamiliar to us. When I moved to India to start my business, everything was unfamiliar and different to home in New York. Being far from family and friends, meant I had to fend for myself and be willing to learn and adapt. I travelled within India, visiting many different cities to better understand the culture, the country and its people. This education was vital in helping me grow, not only as a person but as an entrepreneur.

Everyone deals with rejection differently. Growing up in New York, I was already familiar with rejection, the competition, and cut-throat attitude of others, who, like me, also wanted to succeed. While it helped me to develop a thick skin, it took many years before I became resilient enough to tolerate rejection. I surrounded myself with a good network of people who helped support me and keep in check.

When I first moved to Delhi, I attended startup events and met like-minded individuals who were also in similar positions to me and shared equal visions. Overtime, I met many amazing, fore-thinking, female entrepreneurs who were creating products helping to solve the country’s most pressing issues. I was blown away by their confidence and passion. The one thing they all had in common was that they did not let their fears, or any obstacles, get in the way of their business. Instead, they embraced rejection and let it fuel their passion.

At the end of the day, rejection is just a word. The more we talk about rejection and failure, the less power we give to those emotions, and instead, learn how to better deal when facing them. Rejection has the power to spark your creativity and your ability to explore and create beyond your limits.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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entrepreneurship education business Positive self-talk

Jamie Cid

The author is CEO and founder of tech startup, MobiHires

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