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The pain that every entrepreneur feels, but no-one wants to tell you about

There is one universal pain that every entrepreneur knows about. Whether you’re running a small cafe, a marketing agency, or a global business that dominates its market, you’ll have felt this heartache.

Many entrepreneurs (myself included) will happily tell you when they’ve smashed their profit goals, woken up at 5am to work because they’re just SO busy, or won some amazing business award.

But there are some parts of entrepreneurial life that are kept quiet. Rarely will you hear an entrepreneur talk about a topic that is a lot more common than any of those, and ultimately affects us all.

That topic is rejection.

Every entrepreneur experiences rejection, but no one wants to talk about it because it doesn’t look good. Most entrepreneurs have spent years creating a reputation that they feel would be tarnished if they revealed the universal fact that they, too, experience rejection.

It’s much easier (and sexier!) to write about the hustle and the good times than it is to open up about the times that you’re hit with the word ‘no’.

It’s Time To Get Real About Rejection

Rejection in business feels like trying to light a match that won’t spark no matter how many times you strike it. It’s infuriating – you know that all the parts work – but for some reason they’re just not working for you, right in this moment.

In this sense, rejection is kind of the antithesis of burnout. It’s the lack of a spark rather than burning flames, but paradoxically it can feel much the same.

There’s nothing that induces that heavy, sunken feeling of exhaustion quite like rejection. It manages to rouse emotion from even the most stiff-upper-lipped amongst us, and can be really disheartening.

Even when you know there’s nothing more you could have done, that there we’re external factors that are out of your control (cough, coronavirus, cough) or that it was just a bad fit, something about rejection feels innately personal. 

Rejection can be one of the most difficult and emotion-inducing experiences for any entrepreneur, and although you get better at dealing with it, I would go as far as to say no one ever gets good at handling rejection.

So How Can We Overcome Rejection?

It’s not all doom and gloom though, there are ways that we can become better at overcoming rejection and remaining positive.

When you’re facing rejection in business, there is only one mantra that will get you through. And it will get you through because it’s true.*

The number one rule of rejection is this: It’s not personal, so don’t take it personally.

*Okay, hopefully it’s true. Sometimes it actually is just you. However, if you know you’ve given 100% effort, have been honest and done it all with a great attitude, it’s probably not you.

There Are So Many Reasons People Get Rejected – Most Of Them Have Nothing To Do With You

This is the crux. Although it’s hard to accept rejection, the easiest way to do so is to realise that most of the time it’s not personal. The reasons you might be rejected are widespread and honestly not worth going into here. All you need to know is that most of the time when you experience rejection, it’s not because of you.

One way to get your head around this is to think about the times that you’ve rejected someone else. For example, I can think of a time when I posted online about a job opening I had come up for a writer. I was inundated with messages and I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t reply to some of them. I didn’t think of it as rejection at the time, I just thought I was busy, but now I think it’s a dick move.

But the point is, that the reason I rejected them had nothing to do with them as individuals. I had found the writer I wanted to hire and I felt like I didn’t have time to reply to everyone. The reason I did that was all to do with me and nothing to do with them. It truly wasn’t personal.

When you think of the times the shoe has been on the other foot, you soon realise that rejection truly isn’t personal. Hopefully, this way of thinking also makes you think twice about how you reply to emails or messages that don’t necessarily serve you. It certainly did for me.

Keep Striking The Match

The key to all of this rejection stuff is to keep striking the match, even when the bloody thing won’t give you even a flicker of light. Keep striking, safe in the knowledge that someday soon that spark will ignite, the work will flow freely, and the new business emails will just not stop coming.

But if that’s not your reality right now don’t beat yourself up. It’s nothing personal. Some months as an entrepreneur it feels like you just can’t catch a break, whereas others it just seems like everything is going your way. A smart entrepreneur learns to maintain the same attitude regardless of which situation they find themselves in. 

Ultimately, when it comes to rejection, we all have good days and bad days. The trick is to not get down about the order in which they come. 

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