If you're an entrepreneur, then you've been here before: You come across a great idea; you believe in it; it feels right. You get behind it and push with all your might, trying to get it off the ground.
You, finally, get it in front of someone who matters: a potential customer, an investor or a prospective partner.
And, what happens? They're not feeling it. They don't get it. They tell you it'll never work; it won't make money, or they're just not interested.
Ouch! Rejection is hard for anybody to take, even when it's “just business.” And, for an entrepreneur it is, to some degree, inevitable.
Setting off to work for yourself is a bit like signing up for that game show.
No, not "Shark Tank" -- more like "Wipeout." Even if you win, you're not getting through the obstacle course without getting thrown into the water a few times.
Now, this doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. It just means that, like a stuntman, you need to learn how to fall. The better you are at taking rejection and pressing on, the better your chance is of getting where you need to go.
Here are a few things to remember:
1. Your idea, your product or service, is not for everybody.
Nothing is, and it doesn't have to be. Your job is not to convince people it's for them, it's just to find the people who can see that.
2. Approach it like a scientist.
Good scientists aren't in the business of proving their theories true. Their truths are provisional, and subject to change.
When you receive a rejection, you are receiving some feedback that's either about the idea or about the person who doesn't like it. Be thankful for that feedback; use it and put it to work.
3. Take the longer perspective.
Remember, your business will not look the same in a year or two. It may change radically, or it may give rise to an entirely different set of ideas. Your business is a work in progress, and so are you.
4. Remember, easy success is the rare exception.
Our culture glorifies the entrepreneurs who achieve quick success. But, they are noteworthy in the same way a hail mary touchdown pass is noteworthy. In real life, success is about a solid-ground game and slowly toughing it out, yard after yard.
5. Be “bigger than your business.”
Have a life outside your work. Have hobbies, friends and go on dates. Don't ever fall into the trap of thinking it's an either/or.
Your ability to get creative and make good work decisions largely depends on how happy and relaxed you are. And, that depends on the quality of your personal relationships.
6. Remember, rejections don't count against you.
You can collect hundreds of rejections, and it won't prevent you from getting a yes. Don't worry about what others think; they have short memories.
7. See rejection as a gift.
Entrepreneurship is a rough-and-tumble pursuit; it can be murder on your ego. But, every time you absorb a blow and keep moving, you are building your capacity to press on. And, rejection gives you an opportunity to feel humble.
It may not feel good, but it is good for you.When you're humble, you're not so invested in protecting some idea of yourself or your business, which makes it way easier to see things as they are and as they could potentially be.
A winning entrepreneurial strategy doesn't rely on avoiding rejection, just like a winning football strategy wouldn't rely on a perfectly executed hail mary pass.
Instead, it requires you to court rejection constantly, be confident in your ability to absorb the blow, get up again and correct the course, proving you are stronger and tougher than the circumstances that knock you down.