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4 Important Lessons I’ve Learned from Rejection as an Entrepreneur

It's like high school, but for grown ups.

Rejection isn’t fun. 1980s films by the director John Hughes capture the idea beautifully. Your crush doesn’t notice you? Ouch. The athlete wants his parent to care more than he does. Ruthless. Or the poor girl crosses class lines to date the rich kid, but is teased when she goes to a party for the “Richies.” Now, that’s just brutal.

Perhaps the angst of being a teenager gives a unique spin to rejection, so it is easier to remember in years past how it affected you. Yet even today, the feeling is one that I have become well acquainted with as an entrepreneur.

I’d like to share four of the ways that I have been able to deal with rejection as I build my writing business. It’s not high school, but maybe close enough.

1. Make friends. Cultivate the relationships that you stumble upon, especially if you are just starting out. I have met other business owners unintentionally when I sent prospecting emails. Of the people who responded to my first inquiry emails, a few weren’t interested in content creation, but were still intrigued by what I was doing Being open to new connections with no strings attached has allowed me to build a support base—something that has been particularly useful during the more difficult times. I’ve been out to coffee, and even been introduced to other people who I eventually worked with because of my openness to build relationships that have now become invaluable.

2. Solve for x. In my experience, I have also gotten feedback from some of the “no’s” and “no thank you’s.” Maybe I didn’t offer a type of writing, or my rate didn’t fit within someone’s budget, for example. Regardless, the feedback allowed me to look at the different variables of writing and my business to solve problems and answer more questions. Does feedback point to learning a new skill? Does it mean that you should improve certain processes? Does it mean that you are going in the right direction as you look for clients? You can use how others respond to your inquiries to adjust and progress in your goals as an entrepreneur.

3. Stick to your routine. Here is an assertion that I think is true. Rejection stings more when it exists in a vacuum, but when it sits alongside action, you have the other goals to spread out the impact. For example, I have recently started pitching to different publications without knowing what the outcome will be. So in addition to this goal, I include other tasks such as developing a list of places to contact for speaking engagements, sending an e-book to prospects that fit within my niche topics (i.e. tech), working on a client project, or learning new skills. A routine has allowed me to stay focused without letting the rejection I have experienced wear too heavily. It is the equivalent of not placing all of your eggs in one basket.

4. Remember your successes. Essentially, focus on your wins. To date, some of my wins include a major ghostwriting project, being published in magazines and major websites, learning how to command a rate I deserve, developing packages, and starting to give presentations about the importance of content, to name a few. Having someone respond back with a “no” or say nothing at all starts to become par for the course when you realize that for every valley, you have a few mountains that you have also scaled. Rejection becomes the negative space needed to paint your picture.

I’ve learned these hacks only by doing, and more than anything, it has shown me that I have a steely resolve that has buoyed me through this process. So I share these lessons with those who have the goal of starting their own business, or are in the early stages. May these tips inspire you to continue to place one foot in front of the other and complete the thousand-mile journey referred to as entrepreneurship.

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