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If you can't handle rejection, don't start a business!

In the 1970s, I studied at Queen Mary College, part of London University, in the impoverished East End borough of Tower Hamlets. I co-founded Tower Hamlets Liberal Party with a local guy, Maurice, when there had been no opposition to the Labour Party since two communists in 1945! Maurice was a 'Man from the Pru.', selling life assurance and collecting weekly premiums door to door. He taught me to sell Liberal Party membership the same way. I don't know which entailed more rejection, but we built the party to a point where it controlled the Council five years later. I owe Maurice everything because after that experience, verbal abuse, threats, aggressive dogs etc., sales held no fear for me.



A couple of career twists later, I joined one of the largest U.S. stockbrokers as a trainee, initially in their London Private Client Dept. During my professional training in the U.S., they also gave U.S. and international recruits telephone sales training, 'Smile and Dial' as it was called. I strongly remember they brought in a guest sales psychologist to talk to the 200+ trainees. I expected to hear a lot of psycho-babble, but his first words were, 'The only thing holding you back from getting what you want, whether it's an order or a date, is your fear of rejection. It's your fear of hearing two letters…NO!'. As my late dad used to say, 'Don't ask, don't get!' After completing my training, I became a regular million-dollar commission producer, building my client base from nothing with my own marketing and cold-calling.





Fast forward another ten years, I started my own business in the software industry with just a desk, a screen and a phone. I began by supplying independent computer stores smiling and dialling. If ever I passed a computer store in the high street,anywhere in the U.K., I would drop in unannounced, asking to see the manager. The business grew relentlessly over the years. It took almost eight years of rejection to finally open the account of the largest retailer in our sector. There were many more rejections and crises, but the business grew over the next ten years into £40 million in sales with 60 staff before exiting successfully.



As an Angel Investor and business mentor, the most important thing I want to know is how the entrepreneur faces rejection. In their business career, they will hear 'No' far more than 'Yes'. Before starting, I recommend they reflect on the challenge. If they are not resilient to rejection, entrepreneurship may not be for them. I know you can learn to handle rejection because I also owe my career success to Maurice, the Man from the Pru! hashtag#entrepreneurship hashtag#sales hashtag#business hashtag#startup 

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