How to Handle Rejections while Running Small Business


If you are running small business, chances are you have heard “No” more often than “Yes”. I will be surprised if you have not heard “No” at least one a day. It could come from anyone you are interacting with. Your bank might say “No” to your loan applications. Ninety percent of your prospective customers will say “No” to your sales pitch. Your landlord will say “No” to your request to reduce the rent. The list goes on and on.
It’s not how many times you hear “Yes” that determines your success in small business. It’s how you handle those “No” answers and what you do afterward that makes a successful small business owner. Most of the successful people – small business owners or otherwise – have heard “No” multiple times before they have finally achieved their dreams. Here is a list of 13 well-known business leaders who failed before they succeeded.
So how should you handle “No” to ensure that future questions and requests will result in “Yes”? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Don’t take it personally.
    Most people who have owned small business know this well. You will never be able to make progress if you take “No” personally. Blaming yourself for rejection is a loser’s game. One of my colleagues always tells everyone – Think of success as your accomplishments and think of failure as someone else’s fault. Now, we are not saying that you don’t do anything about rejection or failure. You do want to take actions so that the next request gets positive answer. What we are asking you to do is stop blaming yourself for every rejection.
  2. Learn from rejection
    Once you have taken yourself out of equation for analysis of rejection, the next step is to understand what went wrong. The emphasis needs to be on what, not who. As long as you look at the situation with logical viewpoint you will be able to learn from it and modify your approach to get positive results.
  3. Find systemic problems
    If you continue to get rejections for an extended period without success, chances are you have systemic problems that need fixing. May be your prices are too high, your customer service sucks or you just don’t have products that customers want. Whatever the reason you need to go back to your prospects and try to find out what led them to say “No”. After you have asked 5-10 prospective clients you will start hearing common theme for rejection, which will highlight systemic problems you need to focus on. The key is to ask questions and keep an open mind.
  4. Refine your approach
    This is common sense, but many people still fail to do it. As someone said, the definition stupidity is to do the same thing over and over and expect to get different answer. You have to change your approach based on what you have learned from analysis.

You are never going to be able to eliminate rejections while running business. After all, you cannot control them. What you can do is learn from them and modify your approach such that the future requests will have higher probability of getting “YES” as an answer.

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