Turn “No” into Success

By Scarlett Meade and Craig Jarrell.


If you are an entrepreneur you will face rejection. No doubt. One of the biggest fears of every human being is hearing the word “No.” As an entrepreneur you are constantly swimming upstream. Being an entrepreneur goes against conventional wisdom. The people who love us the most tell us to find a secure job with a company that provides benefits and a retirement plan. However, life is not about collecting paychecks and paying bills, it’s about living with purpose and helping people through your passion. Therefore, you must become comfortable with rejection.

Rejection has been around for a long time. The people in history who have created some of the world’s greatest solutions were rejected many times before their ideas were adopted widely. Let’s talk about Elon Musk. Elon has created the world’s first successful commercial space company, SpaceX. Read his biography, and you’ll see his journey with success has been everything but easy. SpaceX has received countless rejection from investors, government, and even employees. What allows Elon to blaze through the rejection is his indestructible, clear vision for SpaceX.

Let’s look at another example, Jeff Bezos. He started Amazon as an online bookstore. No one thought this company would succeed. The only people who supported him in the beginning were his friends and family. Even some of them thought his idea was ridiculous. What allowed Amazon to succeed was Jeff Bezos’ super clear vision of where he wanted to take his company and his willingness to win. Barnes and Nobles was preparing to watch Amazon fall flat on its face. Look at them now, they are working furiously playing catch up just so Amazon doesn’t put them out of business.

Many great entrepreneurs have been rejected numerous times before they achieved success. Every success story you have ever heard of has dealt with rejection. It is part of the process in building a successful business. Your vision and belief has to be strong enough to prevail. Be the eye of the hurricane. Greatness is being cool under pressure. That is a trait you will find in every major entrepreneur.

Rejection is scary, especially in the beginning. After all who likes it when someone rips apart your idea? It’s ok to have a little fear of rejection. In fact it’s quite normal. The trick is to numb that fear by repetition. Rejection is like a muscle you have to keep building. Let’s call it your “rejection muscle”. Keep doing the sales calls and keep pitching your idea. The more you get in front of people, the stronger your rejection muscle will get. Once you do this consistently, the fear of rejection will slowly disappear.

Rejection is also a great source of feedback. When someone tells you no, ask them why. Ask them what you did wrong and what you could have done better. Take this feedback and use it to improve your presentation. Especially when pitching your ideas to investors. Most investors will give you phenomenal feedback.

You are never going to please everyone, and there will always be haters. That’s why you have to focus on your core beliefs and the problems you are solving with your business. When you have unshakeable belief in your concept, it won’t matter how many people tell you no. In fact it will make more people say yes because they will buy into what you are doing.

As Simon Sinek says, start with why. Once you figure out why you are doing what you are doing, the how becomes easy, and facing rejection becomes easy as well. Remember, everything you want in life is on the other side of fear. You just have to keep building that muscle.

Key Ideas for Handling Rejection

  • Start with why. Figure out why you are doing what you are doing and lead with that.
  • Repetition. Do what you fear the most and you control fear. Keep pitching your idea and make it a part of you.
  • Use the feedback that comes with rejection. Ask questions and go back to the drawing boards.
  • Put positive ideas into your mind everyday through books. Cut out the T.V. and fill your mind with beneficial information.
  • Align yourself with entrepreneurs in similar situations. Remember that there are people out there who are dealing with the same struggles you are. Befriend this people and provide support for each other. This will give you courage.

The majority of ideas in business are shot down multiple times before they are accepted. You have to keep sharing your belief until you find the right people. You have to go through the no’s to get to the yes’s. Entrepreneurship is constantly running through walls and eating shit sandwiches on a daily basis. You have to develop thick skin and a taste for shit sandwiches. Don’t worry, you’ll develop the taste. Implement the mindset and strategies and watch your fear disappear.

As the late, great Jim Rohn says, “You reap what you sow.” So keep planting seeds and water the ones that sprout.