Here’s some things I’ve learned about how to handle rejection in business.
Most of us don’t start out as entrepreneurs with a lot of experience and there really isn’t any training to become an entrepreneur. When we get rejected, sometimes you take it too hard.
I’ve been professionally rejected by more organizations than I can count lol. You can read more about my experiences with some of these organizations here.
I’ve attended small business events, women’s business workshops and tech events where event managers turn their back on me while I was talking to them and walk off.
Just this week, I had a new connection on LinkedIn reach out to me and tell me how my website was a “hot mess” and of course, offer to provide me with the magic solution.
I could go on and on.
Are you wondering what my point is?
The point is that there are some techniques for handling rejection in business.
- Many of the events I’ve attended have been hosted by non-profits. I don’t know who decided that a non-profit can counsel people on how to be a startup or a successful small business, but they get paid by local, state and federal resources to do this. Their revenue occurs with the original contact – after that – they don’t get any more money and there are no metrics that occur to measure how many businesses or startups they help.
**Be judicious about attending events that promise to “help” startups or small businesses. Would you ask a non-profit how to buy a car? Doubtful. If you are going to attend these events, network with other small businesses while you are there. I’ve gotten several promising leads that generated revenue by doing this. Non-profits don’t want to/can’t do business with most private entities anyway (like small businesses) If there wasn’t really any possibility of you getting any business out of the event holder, it isn’t really a rejection.
- Local, state and federal governments all have small business programs that are free to join. In the beginning, I joined all of them. (Comes from doing an Internet search – “how to grow a business). You are just one of many with these programs. From the metrics I’ve run, the same small businesses get these contracts over and over again. I get it – once an organization finds a small business that meets their metric, i.e. woman owned, veteran owned, minority owned, etc. – why look any further? Interestingly, I was told by a staff member at the GSA small business program that I should treat prospective vendor relationships as a date….to this day, I’m not sure what this meant.
**Try to develop relationships with the senior management at companies you want to do business with as a small business. I’ve had much better response with this strategy than trying to swim upstream in the small business diversity/minority program pool. What value does your business bring to the relationship? How can your business solve a pain point for the larger business? Develop a specific, targeted message and deliver it professionally and creatively. These prime contractors and government representatives have no incentive to pick your business – unless you give them one.
- There are tons of HATERS on social media, at business events and with organizations. People have bad days; some people think making other people feel bad will make them hire them (weird!) and some people are mad about their jobs/position and resent you. It’s also likely that some element of prejudice plays a part in their behavior.
**Don’t waste your time on HATERS. It’s never a win to engage with them and it NEVER brings any value to you or your business. Focus on the people who you can connect with who are genuinely interested in your business model and/or connecting with you. Build a strong consortium of business friends, colleagues and people who will tell you the truth. It probably won’t be a HUGE number of people, but each one of those connections will give you value. BTW – it’s up to you to return that value to your connections.
It sounds hokey, but it’s true. To be a successful entrepreneur and small business owner, you must rise above all the negative. Keep focused on the path you have built for yourself and for your organization.
Sometimes negative responses and rejections are valid. It’s hard not to be emotional about someone saying something negative about your business, but if you can learn from a negative response or rejection, you are on the path to true success.
One last thing.
If you are a successful small business, don’t treat other small businesses like sh*&. Super easy mantra. I’ve made customers out of entrepreneurs by providing help where I can. There is enough business to go around. (If you are that worried about competition, maybe your business isn’t as strong as you think it is.)
Toughen up! This is business. Be a professional. I think if more people would behave in a professional way, the business environment would be a healthier and more competitive place.
Give positive feedback always and constructive criticism only if someone asks you for it!