6 Ways First-Time Entrepreneurs Can Turn a 'No' into Momentum


Entrepreneurs are usually known for the ability to persist until they've found a way to make their idea happen. An optimistic mindset has no space in it for a negative word like 'no.' Because of that optimism, many entrepreneurs don't see 'no' as a negative, but rather just another obstacle that sends us on a different path.

We often give ourselves permission to immediately translate that word in our head to 'not right now' or 'maybe.' If I had given up every time I heard the word 'no,' I never would have built my business. I had no idea what I was doing business-wise, but I did know the marketplace and deeply believed that my product would be successful. Instead of hearing 'no' when someone responded to me, I had an automatic subconscious translation that meant, 'Keep going.'

Like the time when I was learning about the manufacturing phase for my product and the textile company manager said, "No. We can't work with you, we have very high minimums." But something funny happened before I left the building. I had gotten lost on the way out and ended up in the back part of the facility where the cutting was being done. Someone asked me if I needed help getting back to the exit and before I knew it, he had agreed to cut samples from my very small bag of fabric. This one lucky break led to a great business relationship. In fact, I became one of their biggest customers until years later when they had to close due to the overseas shift in manufacturing.

Another 'no' kept coming my way from the buyer of a big bath and body chain store, even though I knew that my product was very complimentary to their lines and was a perfect match for their customer base. I kept in touch with the buyer every several months by offering updates on our designs and private label offerings. My ideas were met with rejection for three years until she no longer worked at the company. If I hadn't kept in touch with her I never would have heard those beautiful words on her voicemail, directing callers to reach out to the new buyer. Fortunately, the new buyer loved our line, immediately picked it up and the chain store carried it for over 10 years.

There are countless other examples from my litany of trial and error in building Moisture Jamzz. I always used 'no' as fuel for my fire by immediately translating it into something positive quietly in my head. It works. If you truly believe in something, each 'no' that you hear can lead you to something better. The key is patience, persistence and creativity.

Here are 6 tips for learning how to not get discouraged with a "No," and instead use it as momentum:

1. Always have a quote or mantra at the ready.
Repeat it to yourself silently to help you reframe what you think is a negative into a positive. Don't take it personally.

2. Listen to the reason that you got the 'no' and figure out if you can improve or tweak your product/service.
There are many times when a 'no' can lead to something better.

3. Ask questions.
Ask questions, not as someone who feels rejected, but as someone who wants to learn. Meaningful conversation can turn a 'no' into a 'yes,' and it can also turn into an opportunity to build a relationship. Be patient and professional, never burn a bridge.

4. Have a clear vision of your end goal and visualize it daily.
When you hit a roadblock, it's okay. It may lead you down a different path, but you can still clearly see your goal. Just move forward.

5. Get creative instead of forceful.
Sometimes you really feel like you're on the right track but things keep getting stuck. Think about different ways to accomplish a task. Don't try to keep fitting that square peg into the circular hole. Create new opportunities.

6. Take a break.
Sometimes entrepreneurs get in a zone and keep pounding the pavement, afraid to stop. When you feel overwhelmed or burned out, listen to your body. Take deep breaths and relax. Get quiet. Clear your head. There's something very powerful about stepping away, letting go completely and then coming back with a stronger frame of mind.

We can't control every aspect when launching (or running) a business, we need others to say 'yes' to certain things. One thing we can control is our reaction to a 'no.' Learn to be proactive and agile.

As Tony Robbins says, "Success is buried on the other side of rejection." See you on the other side!