Dealing with Rejection & Why it’s the Best Thing That Will Ever Happen to You

Elle Fanning in Rodarte by Bill Owens for A Magazine via Fashion Gone Rogue

So you come up with a brilliant and inventive idea for your business. You’re excited and can’t wait to get started. You also start telling people about your plans too, because well, you’re excited…

But then someone screws up their face and tells you they don’t like your idea and that it’s probably not going to work. What do you do?

A) Decide they’re probably right, have a little secret cry and drop the idea all together.
B) Convince yourself that this person is clearly and idiot an carry on regardless.
C) Listen to what they say, ask them questions as to why they think the idea is rubbish and make changes based on what they’ve said.
D) Change your idea completely and come up with something new.

While none of the options are necessarily wrong, today I want us to think about and discuss how we deal with rejection, or people saying ‘no’ to us, and in turn what we can learn from it in order to grow our businesses.

There are a couple of things to think about when someone says no to you or tries to dissuade you from an idea.

Do you value their opinion?

Basically do you care what they think!? Is their opinion likely to mirror the option of the people you want to attract with the idea? Do they fit into your target demographic? Or if they’re a business owner too, do you admire what they’ve achieved with their business?

Does their concern come from a place of love?

Are they the kind of person who wants the best for you OR are they likely to try and put you off an idea because they are jealous/competitive/might want to steal the idea for themselves? Are they a ‘frenemy‘?!

If you do value their opinion, then go back and look at the idea objectively. Are your goals realistic or do they just need tweaking a little?

It sounds a bit cliché but I really believe that in order to progress, you must stop pining after that closed door and start looking for the open window on the other side of the room. I wish I knew who said that first…it’s very wise huh?

Quite simply, you must look at every ‘no’ or set back as an opportunity. What can you learn from the rejection? How can you progress the idea and your business because of it? I also truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and although I don’t believe in God, I do think we all have a certain life path and goal. All we need to do is find it! Often that path is winding and you just have to get through a maze of closed doors and new directions to get to the right place!

Let me illustrate. When I first started thinking of Rock n Roll Bride as an actual business, I had a meeting with a media production company who I was put in touch with by someone I used to work with at the shopping channel. At the time, I thought this was going to be the thing to get my business off the ground. When I met with them they pitched the idea of making video blogs the majority of my content. You see at the time, Internet-based TV programmes were supposed to be the ‘next big thing’ and I guess their thinking was that Rock n Roll Bride would be a platform for them to showcase wedding related video content that they/we would put together.

However something didn’t sit right with me. I wasn’t 100% comfortable with being on camera (seriously, look at this pilot I did for them if you don’t believe me! It’s so embarrassing, but weirdly most of what I say has come true – ha!) and I didn’t really know how me, talking to camera, would work for the blog. My idea for Rock n Roll Bride was to use it to share inspirational wedding photography and alternative wedding ideas – not for me to be some ‘personality’ just talking about alternative weddings.

Anyway, after this first video test, the media company must have realised the same thing as me (that I sucked at being on camera) because the emails and phone calls stopped. I felt so rejected and like I’d totally failed. Even though I didn’t even really want this to be the direction of my blog in the first place, I felt like they were telling me I was crap and that because of this my business was going to fail.

To cut a long story short, I picked myself up and carried on with what I originally wanted to do, and by sharing photos and stories from the weddings I loved, the recognition eventually came. I started to get kudos for running my business the way I wanted to and I know, with 100% certainty, that without this initial rejection I wouldn’t be where I am today.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future, you have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever – because believing the dots will connect down the road, will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when its leads you off the well-worn path.” – Steve Jobs, How to Live Before you Die

My closing words are this, if you’ve faced rejection in your business then don’t run away. Don’t let it define you. If you still love what you’re doing then continue doing it! Learn from what’s happened, but see it as an opportunity to grow, not a chance to fail. I promise you’ll find your path, you might just have to change direction a few times to get there.

26 comments

  1. Was this written for me? I have had a major case of rejection wobbles this week, even to the point where I’ve been searching online for a ‘real’ job.

    Thank you Kat, I needed this today :D

  2. Great post Kat thank you its always good to know that it isnt plain sailing for everyone and that hard work and determination can pay off…i cant tell you how many tears i have shed over the last few months and moments when i have thought to give up but im determined not too and that all the struggle at the beginning will be worth it!

  3. I agree, My husband often makes comments when I am bouncing around wildly with ideas and he says but.. and I get all *you want me to fail* lol when in reality he wants the opposite it’s about listening and taking on board things that maybe you hadn’t thought about. As far as being turned away as a photographer yeah that’s hard but that’s life biscuits help and creme eggs lol good on you for sticking to what’s true to you. I’m the same and it shouldn’t any other way!

  4. Yep, 100% agree with this. You have to learn to build up a thick skin and starting out I was as soft as they come. If I took every single rejection to heart I’d never get up in the morning! I remember when I met with a couple a few years back and the groom said “four weddings isn’t very much really is it?” when I was also juggling a virtually full time job simultaneously. I felt sorry for myself for the rest of the day but then got on with kicking ass.

    Five years on and the “dots” are starting to join thanks to sticking to my gut instinct and that’s really the best you can do.

  5. There was a great article in the Guardian recently, about a woman called Amanda Hocking, who wanted to go to Chicago to see the Muppet Show (she was based in Texas, I think). She’d written loads of novels, but had a box full of rejection letters from agents, all who’d turned her down. So she took to self-publishing, via Amazon. That was two years ago at the start of 2010. She just wanted to make $300 – enough to go to see the Muppet Show. Well, she’s made over $2m. She kept all the rejection letters, but the point is, you can succeed, even when others reject you. :-) (It’s a fantastic story – totally recommend reading it!).

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/12/amanda-hocking-self-publishing

  6. Rejection is THE hardest thing about being a wedding photographer because you put so much of yourself in your work – so it feels like they are rejecting you – personally. (I am sure it must be like that for loads in the wedding industry – I just only know what it is like to be a photographer…lol). I think sometimes social media can make it really rough as well when you are going through a period of rejection (or perceived rejection) because it can be a million voices all saying what a great day they have had or how much their business is booming.

    I try to dust off after rejection – and examine the ‘why’ behind the rejection and give a good think to how I can do better/differently next time. And sometimes (much like what you experienced) it turns out that the rejection was the best possible outcome for everyone involved.

  7. Great post Kat, it’s really tough when you’re starting out and the last thing you want is anyone to rain on your parade. But often they’ve got something constructive you can work on, or at least you can think ‘sod you, we’ll prove you wrong’!

  8. This is a great post, I think lots of people will really benefit from it. Sometimes we all are put off by ‘frenemys’ and need to look at where their comments are coming from! The Steve Jobs quote keeps me going everyday when people try to discourage me as they can’t see the big picture. Thank you Kat

  9. Great post Kat, Steve Jobs is also a constant source of inspiration and drive for me. What a guy. It’s so true, I also believe that everything happens for a reason, even if you can’t see it at first. I had an idea that I thought was great, just what I needed to do, so I broke my neck trying to get it to work. It was an unbelievable uphill struggle and caused me to put in a lot of time and effort for little reward. After yet another set back, I was exhausted so I stopped and took a step back…and realised that actually, I was going in the wrong direction. It really made me focus my business and I am so much better for it. It’s hard not to take these things personally (and I really don’t have a thick skin) but I think you learn a lot more from set backs, mistakes and negative responses than if everything was plain sailing all the time xx

  10. Great article Kat, brilliant!
    Rejection is a hard one, but you are right we have to look at why and where its coming from and what we can do to change things(if we need to change things)….
    You are a truthsayer…and I love the Green Room…x

  11. Sarah

    Great article, great minds think alike. Wobbles are to be treated as learning curves, & if we don’t learn from these curves then maybe we need to step outside of the box for a while.
    Being successful in business doesn’t come in a 10 minute flat pack, it takes a culmination of wisdom, knowledge, experience, skills and commitment over years to stabilise and develop.

  12. Great article Kat & as so many have said – rings true with a lot of us togs.

    You will always have the days when you have had an amazing shoot & you are on cloud 9. You feel like you could conquer the whole frikkin world. Then the days when things are slow & that little inner negative voice that we all have & hate kicks in.

    It’s tough when you are starting out & getting established. You have to almost stake your claim & not be overshadowed by the latest fashions & trends & styles. When you look around & see like, majorly busy photographers then you have to tell yourself that they have been in business for 10 or more years & they TOO had to start somewhere. They probably made the same mistakes & had the same obstacles to conquer.

    I once read a fab quote similar in sentiment which said “man cannot discover new oceans until he loses sight of the shore”

    Maybe we should set up a wobbles blog community? LOL Where people can log on & say “what a shit day, anyone got biscuits & cakes?” LOL ;-)

  13. I wish someone had given me this article when I first started out – I guess we all start out dreamy-eyed, and then shortly after you develop some thick skin or you start something else… :) Its always good to know that everyone goes through it – even your role models and inspirations (like you!) – thanks for being so brave and honest with the rest of us!

  14. Thank you for the encouragement. So often I sit back (with what appears to be most everyone else) and wonder “WHAT AM I DOING???” after comments and criticism. Thank you for being the light

  15. Gail

    Thank you for this great post. Has given me the confirmation I need to keep going, keep trying and don’t let criticism put me off pursuing what I love doing!

  16. As a student planning on opening my own business, I face rejections and nasty comments all the time. Lately I have realized that some of them are from jealous acquaintances and people trying to bring me down. I am truly happy and excited for my future career goals. Thank you for posting this, it was perfect for this time in my life (and I’m sure in the future as well). This girl is not giving up.

  17. Great post! I’ve started two businesses out of my passions and although I’m enjoying getting them both up and running one is definitely more tough, and the other day I got my first major rejection with it. Within a few hours I was also offered an opportunity that is in my area of expertise, but not a direction I had thought about taking. The combination of the rejection and opportunity have made me see a possible direction for my business that will make it more enjoyable, improve my confidence in what I’m doing and see some light at the end of the tunnel.

    Keep the brilliant posts coming! I love them!!!

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