I often speak about my entrepreneurial journey and the plethora of things that have led me to this point. This piece is not about the general hardships that entrepreneurs face. I wrote about that some time ago. The story is constantly evolving. To read about that click here. This piece focuses on the thing that I believe sends even the most experienced, unshakeable confident souls running for the hills: rejection.
Before I became an entrepreneur, I always thought that I was okay with rejection. You win some and you lose some, right? I think that it is safe to say that while I sat in my corporate office licking my proverbial wounds when I didn't land something that I perceived to be important, my wound licking was wrapped up in ego and had very little to do with whether I ate or not. I had a healthy salary coming in, my healthcare was covered and I had the financial freedom to pretty much do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. When you work for yourself rejection could mean you don't have the money to pay your rent, food or healthcare bills. It is making the choice to put gas in the car because you need to get around versus paying the electric bill because frankly, these days everything runs on electricity. I will save my stories of creativity for another day but do want to impart that creativity is a covenant of entrepreneurship and not just with regard to your business but how you live your life and survive while on the journey. Ponder that one...
I like to use the tipping point analogy. When you consider that freedom is one of the biggest drivers of the choice to become an entrepreneur, I believe that the balance - the other side of the scale - is rejection. Which is greater, your love of freedom or your fear of rejection which might feel by extension like failure? When does the tipping point toward the latter become to much to bear? We know what freedom is and why we all want it. The thought of managing one's own time and working to your own schedule is very alluring. The thought of earning enough to live while having that freedom is living the dream but what of the other side? What about rejection? I'm talking about the possibility of 1000 no(s) before getting a single yes, and sometimes over a protracted period of time. I'm talking about so many no(s) that you begin to question your ability by wondering if you have what it takes to do anything at all. I'm talking about the disappointment of doing all that you can do to make a deal, to be told that the deal is not yours.
The feelings associated with rejection are real and the extension of that - a lack of cash - often leads folks to going back to the corporate grind soon after taking the plunge to regain the stability and comfort associated with having a steady income. I can't say that I blame them because the thought of going back to the benefits of a big corporate role enter my thoughts almost daily but for me, freedom still reigns. My personal balance is tipped firmly on the side of the benefits. Today, my freedom continues to be worth the challenges but ask me tomorrow and I may have a different answer. I ascribe it to entrepreneurial flux!
Rejection isn't personal. I can recall turning entrepreneurs away far more than I have ever said yes. There are so many factors that go into making a decision about whether or not you are going to use someone or buy their goods and 99% of the time, it has nothing to do with the seller. I use my personal experience of being on the buy side to remind myself that rejection is a construct. I've re-created my construct around rejection and firmly believe that each 'no' is assurance that I am following my true and rightful path. It is the universe's way of helping to guide me to what I am ultimately meant to do. I've learned to use no as a safeguard that protects me from going in the wrong direction. It is all a matter of perspective. When times get tough and you are trying to decide what to do next, perspective may be all that you have until you get to the next break through. Persevere but know your limits. If you are afraid of rejection and can't use it to fuel your success, it is likely that being an entrepreneur isn't for you.