Rejection. We fear it, hate it, dread it. Whether it’s asking that special someone to the senior prom or submitting your idea to a company, rejection is both an unfortunate and inescapable occurrence.
But you can own it.
I can hardly begin to detail the loads of rejection I’ve received over the past twenty years – I’m certain I could wallpaper my entire home with all of the letters I’ve collected. But contrary to most people’s belief, rejection doesn’t have to equal the end, the finale. You CAN turn rejection into positive action.
If a company rejects your idea or your prototype, ask why. Do they sell a too-similar product? Was your sell-sheet unclear? Essentially, how did you not meet their needs? Let them paint a picture for you. The majority of mistakes I’ve made have been in this initial area of understanding. I lacked knowledge of a company’s means of production or where they sell their products, for example – I would try to sell a product that demanded a plastic construction when all of a company’s equipment was designed for wood, or approached a company specializing in garden equipment when my product was actually made for use in the kitchen. You must learn and understand a potential licensee’s needs, and his or her business, in order to avoid inevitable rejection.
The information you gain about why your idea was rejected is invaluable. Recently I helped a group of InventRight graduates contact several companies regarding their invention. They were amazed at how easy it was. When the company I had approached rejected their idea, I asked “Why? Why isn’t it right for you? Can you share some insight with me?” And the woman did. Armed with this new information, the inventors could go back to step one and modify their idea, or approach new, better suited customers. The tools they learned had allowed them to turn no into yes – a different yes, but a yes nonetheless.
Bringing a product to marketplace is a process and an experience – mistakes and rejection are just one aspect of the adventure. It’s hard, and it’s painful to invest so much time and energy into an idea that someone turns down. But if you can find the humor in a situation, pick yourself up and move on, you’ve succeeded. We all know we’re playing a numbers game. Persist! You only fail when you quit.