You’ve probably heard the story before; a driven founder eager to fund their company is rejected by hundreds of venture capitalists before finding one that will take a chance on them. Through it all, perseverance and the willingness to turn rejection into resilience propels them forward.
In business, the road to success is often paved with rejection, and the truth is, you’re bound to be rejected at some point in your career. There is no doubt that rejection is tough, and no one knows this better than a startup founder who has invested all of their time and energy into building their company.
For some, even the thought of failure is enough to paralyze their progress, while others bulldoze forward with the looming fear in the back of their mind. When rejection hits, it’s easy to feel defeated and lose hope. But, how you manage those negative emotions and channel them into positive action will make all the difference in what happens next for you and your company.
If you’re finding it difficult to push past rejection, here are some tips to help motivate you to keep working towards your goals:
Step back to appreciate the small wins
It’s a founder’s job to always think about the bigger picture, but sometimes it’s important to take a step back and celebrate the smaller wins. Be sure to take time to recognize your team and all of their hard work.
Startup teams can be consumed by the chase for the next challenge; the search for the next customer, the race to launch the next feature, and the battle to overcome the market’s competitors, are all factors that are top of mind for founders and their teams. But, it’s important to remind your team that the little wins lead to long-term success.
Maintain your motivation
An entrepreneur’s work feels never-ending when their company’s future is uncertain. Rejection can add pressure to an already stressful job and founders may cope with stress by diving even deeper into their work.
But, working 100-plus hours a week on your business long-term can impact your mental and physical health. Instead, founders should be mindful of their limits and know when it’s time to recharge. Maintaining your motivation so you don’t experience burnout is one of the most important tactics you can use to ensure you’re producing your best work.
Aim to create a work-life balance that works for you; that may not mean you spend an equal amount of time at work as you do at home, but it does mean you take breaks when you need it. Keep in mind that building a successful company is more of a marathon than a sprint.
Embrace the law of averages
The law of averages is a concept, widely adopted by the sales and marketing professionals, that suggests the more frequently you do something, the more you will see a ratio between your successful and unsuccessful attempts. So for example, out of every 10 investors you meet, one will give you a meeting. Theoretically, your 1:10 ratio means you need to speak to 100 investors to get 10 meetings.
Startup founders can embrace the law of averages by continuing to move forward – keep talking to customers, keep meeting with investors, keep iterating on your product. If you learn from each experience and continuously refine your techniques, you can improve your ratio of success and overcome rejection.
Remember that you’re not the only one
Rejection can be isolating. You may not want to talk about your experience with anyone, but that’s exactly what you should do. Talking about it with others who have gone through similar experiences offers a nice reminder that you’re not alone.
Resilience is a skill that is best refined by overcoming adversity. Failure and rejection can help startup founders build their capacity for success if they are equipped with the right mindset and approaches to tackle rejection head-on.