Entrepreneurship · Psychology

How do you keep your spirits up when everyone says NO?

Jan Asimov Marketing Manager at Startups

September 18th, 2016

This is probably the word that we as entrepreneurs have to hear left and right during the process of building a company. Do you have some words of wisdom on how to keep your spirits up when this is rejection keeps coming your way?

Amanda Winstead Talent Acquisition Specialist

September 18th, 2016

People know if you are sincere or not. If you are interfacing with them in public at events do not talk shop but instead get to know them if it is a business after hours or even wal-mart. Always network. If it is a meeting, go in the office and look around for a sports team, University they graduated from and make some small talk and remember the names and little things so that if you get no today that you will call back on the right day and remember that Duke Fan or Fact the Debbie has a Daughter that just moved to Canada and ask about it. Open ended questions that are finding the pain before you offer which solution and know your competitor but do not bad mouth them. If this was easy, everyone would do it but it is scary on our own and time can get limited with one person. If you really want this- start to love rejection. Call them next quarter and realize that on the right day that they will potentially be one of your largest accounts. I would find someone that is where you want to be and get your own mentor or daily motivational videos to watch. Are you using social media or how is this process allocated and is it a time consuming "no" or you give up after five calls? I have been there. Caleb Maddix is 15 years old and after ten calls he convinced a business owner to write him a 10K check to come speak for his company. Take the people that are losing ego, killing it, and hustle. Ego got to me because people that see you leave the corporate world may wait for you to fail. Then, the pressure of cash-flow and time. Write about this part of it and visualize yourself where you want to be in the next five years living like most people can't because of this year and next. Be the inspiration for someone else one day but unless it is just not for you and unhealthy. Mindset is key so expect a yes and give off the energy that says yes instead of appreciating their business not seeing it as a partnership. Don't go down on your prices either or undersell yourself to think that helps. Shortcuts just doesn't create long term success so enjoy this journey... you have to have patience and crush the sales calls. Stay in your lane and be you- give, give, then ask for what they can do for you. If you give them 51% to their 49% - you will see consistency and momentum build. Don't listen to what people tell you to fix in yourself but harness on your strengths and drive that home.

David Mulhall-Brown Data-driven customer management professional

September 19th, 2016

I didn't realise it at the time, but one of the best side-effects of being part of an accelerator programme is the comradery you have with the other teams. 

Although the programme itself was helpful in organising our business, and I wouldn't trade that experience for the world, the follow-up meetings we have once a month (founders only) have been a godsend for our collective mental health. Just being able to speak openly and honestly about the day-to-day struggles is hugely therapeutic.

I'd highly recommend finding a few other founders you can meet with on a regular basis and discuss your trials and tribulations. We're based in London but I'm sure there are some people you can find near you. 

Good luck and keep your powder dry!

World Changer & Ninja Marketeer Improving everything one day at a time...

September 18th, 2016

I have been trying to recruit people to promote a revolutionary new mobile app where they actually PAY you to do it unlike Pokemon or candy Crush/Angry birds etc., have big time celebs like Manny Pacquiao and Evander Holyfield signed up, and you STILL have to convince people that they should get into it, with no risk whatsoever, no commitment.  This is the deal, its kinda like sales... only 1% of people will actually hear you and agree and take... and THEN only about 5% will really put the legwork in and take advantage of the opportunity.

Its really just a human thing... you are way ahead of the curve, and thats the way all pioneers and intrepid leaders think and feel.  Its the ones that believe they are doing good are the ones that will persevere.  Just believe in the numbers, 1:100, then 5:100... you will feel much better about your results.

Good luck!

Jay Lee

Zack Wilson

September 19th, 2016

I like Seth Godin for this too - he talks about reversing the mindset and treating each "no" as one step closer to a "yes". Make sure you're taking something away from each experience, but don't let the experiences take something away from you. 

Michael Leeds CEO & Founder

September 18th, 2016


I added a video comment that I hope helps @

Hopefully you and others will add to the thread because many entrepreneurs can likely benefit from your question.


Bridge Firm East Coast Executive Search | Advanced Manufacturing

September 18th, 2016

For me, I started to follow Gary Vaynerchuk. I came across him on YouTube when I was feeling like quitting and soon became one of his biggest fans. - I hope this helps- it's a hustle. 

Donavon Urfalian A.I. Engineer / Entrepreneur / Founder & CEO @ Umazed / Kodo Startups

September 18th, 2016

Be internally driven, and don't let the outside waver your determination, while keeping in mind you cannot create a market that doesn't want to exist by created a solution in the form of a product or service to a problem made up in the mind of the founder that doesn't reflect a real solution to a real problem that captures an experience in a product hook.

Michael Hartzell Entrepreneur, Addicted to "Yes" - When Everyone Wins

September 18th, 2016

Subscribe to Seth Godin's blog
He writes articles specifically to you.

Consider your heart and mind a bank.
Deposits - withdrawals.
You choose what to deposit and when.
Make a decision to make deposits - from:
1) audiobooks
2) yes people - who are problem solvers
3) Seth's blog
4) Videos on YouTube
5) History - stories from the past about people laughed at and laughed last
4) little successes by helping another in need (they cheer)

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” 
― Albert Einstein

“A kite flies against the wind, not with it.” 
― Winston S. Churchill

When people say "no", it is more data. 

The most remarkable and enlightening book this last year has been 
By Daniel Pink

Along the way, we improve our ability to listen, understand, anticipate and serve. --- and increase the number of yeses.

I have listened to Daniel Pink's audiobook 14 times in as many months to shift paradigms, create new habits and become more attuned.  You should find it priceless.  (I like audiobooks - while on the run)

You wake up in the morning - and there will be X deposits of "no".
And you get to choose what to deposit. 

Mikhail Gorelkin Principal AI Architect & Developer

September 18th, 2016

Do what you must, come what may. --Leo Tolstoy

Kesha Stickland Product Strategy, Platform Innovation and Digital Transformation Consultant

September 18th, 2016

A startup is a roller coaster of emotions. I'd recommend you start by taking steps to figure out WHY you're hearing "no" so you can take constructive action. It's sometimes a simple as how you're targeting your audience or a need to improve your elevator pitch, but sometimes the reason for no can go much deeper. 

For instance, find out if what you have is a "new market" idea. Many act as if those ideas only come from the Steve Jobs' of the world, but that is untrue. Anyone re-thinking a conventional solution to an existing or emerging problem will have a harder time on the startup road than those focused on improving an existing market. 

If you find this is your challenge, just remember they call it a "new market" for a reason. There are a number of well known books and research materials on the subject (e.g. Technology Diffusion Theory, Crossing the Chasm, The Innovator's Dilemma) you can reference to help understand if this may be your issue. New markets make activities like customer development and funding much harder. It may also mean you need to build a strategy to help customers see the problem in a new light before they can wrap their minds around your solution. If you're in this boat it means you'll need to figure out how to extend your runway while the technology diffuses into the market. One way is to figure out what sort of people are likely to "just get it" (innovators) and target just those people initially before moving on to early adopters. All this is easier said than done especially when many advisors and VC's understand how to build a business for existing markets, but not new ones.

You might also try following a two step process at least twice a week (works for me):

1. Cross one thing off your "Turning No into Yes" list
2. Then alternate between a "work-life balance" or "reward" activity - something good for you like exercise or something you find relaxing or fun like going out with other startup founders for food/drinks ;)

Hang in there!