Rejection is all part of the business, baby

Rejection is all part of the business

When I first started my business, besides generally not having a clue what I was doing, I expected people to want to work with me and buy my products just because what I offered were good. It turns out that was not the case at all. I learnt the hard way that to get a business off the ground, it takes a whole lotta’ pushing and a whole lotta’ not getting much in return.

Now, for a sensitive person, being ignored or rejected can be a hard thing to take. Soul destroying even. You know that what you’ve got to offer can really benefit people, but after a while, you start to doubt that. And after you doubt your products or services, you begin to doubt yourself.

Trust me, I’ve heard all the negative self-talk run through my head a million times – ‘It’s because they don’t really like you’, or ‘They must be looking for something of a higher standard. Yours is crap.’, or ‘You sounded like a desperate loser to them, it’s no surprise they want nothing to do with you’.

Rejection is all part of the business

In actual case, the things that normally run through the people’s heads who you pitched ideas to are probably more like ‘I’ll get to that shortly’ but they forget to get around to it, or ‘I must take the time to look into that at some stage’ but they never get the time.

Of course, there are the occasions where what you’ve got to offer just isn’t some people’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. There’s plenty of people who would love your tea and creating a successful business is largely about finding them. In fact, so much of business is creating awareness about you or your brand so that the people who want you, can find you.

That means that there’s going to be many times when you’ll put yourself out there and not feel the love in return. It’s not because you, or what you have to offer, are shit. It’s because what you have is not meant for those people. The people it is meant for will come running to you with open arms when they find you.

The 30% Rule

Yesterday, I was speaking to a very successful entrepreneurial friend in Singapore. We were talking about sales conversion rates from speaking gigs. She said that she makes sales on roughly 30% of her audience every time she presents.

Then yesterday afternoon, I happened to be reading this article by Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Michael Bungay Stanier, in which he discussed his marketing strategies for selling his latest book. He told of a 30% success rate in people he approached to help him get the word out there about his book. And that was from people he specifically targeted!

These two people alone are highly successful, well known, and good at what they do. If even they can only achieve 30% returns of their efforts sometimes, who the hell are we to beat ourselves up for not doing better?

The thing to note here is that 30% success also means 70% rejection. 70% of the people you build your courage up to put yourself out there to, will tell you to fuck off (or subtly imply it). In other words, you can’t expect to run a business without experiencing a mother-load of rejection.

The good news is that there’s no need to take it personally. In business, everyone’s the same. Ask anybody who’s ever started their business from scratch and they’ll be sure to have their own plethora of rejection stories to tell you. There’ll be times when you’ll win and people will love the shit out of you, and times that it will feel no-one wants a bar of you.

It takes time

It’s true what they say about no-one being an overnight success. Creating a great business takes time and effort. The more you stay in the game, the more you learn and the better you navigate it. If you’re serious about making a go of it, my suggestion is to stick with it hard for at least two years before you allow yourself to consider giving up.

Have I got my business to where I want it to be? Hell no. Not yet anyway. I’m just done with the days of beating myself up every time I get rejected. Onwards and upwards, I say!

Do you have any good business rejection stories?

Written By

Mahdi is an advocate for nature, animals and people. She has poor fashion sense but a good sense of humour. She hopes that one day there will be ample female toilets in all venues. She is the author of ‘The Power of You: How to Positively Influence People, Places and the World’ and founder of Mahdi Earth and The Earth Healers’ Hub.


  • Such an entertaining and truthful read! So much rejection and so much strategising on all levels and from all parties involved. It’s exhausting and hard to take sometimes but the wins will always win!

    • Thank you Penelope. Yep, the wins are worth it. And even with a 30% success rate, it’s still 30% ahead of where we would have been if we’d given up, or worse, never tried at all.

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