How to Move Forward After Rejection

By Rob

Many stories of businesses largely focus on the steps that lead to success. However, these stories often don’t shed light on the series of failures and rejections that, although not as exciting as a success, motivate and move people forward. Although being rejected is largely seen as a failure, people who are rejected multiple times have the ability to show resilience in still creating and/or working towards new growth for their business.

Algonquin women entrepreneurs involved in the ODEY project are at various stages of developing their own businesses. Learning how to move forward post-rejection is one skill that is crucial for new entrepreneurs as they begin to navigate the business world! 

One of the key factors in success post-rejection is how the person’s self-esteem is affected. There are two typical ways that people respond to rejection, either attributing the cause of the rejection to be external or internal causes. An example of an external cause is that “the funding agency is the one with the problem”. Comparatively, an internal cause would be “I’m not good enough and this rejection is because of my own personal shortcomings”. Neither of these reactions are a good way to move forward. Attributing the rejection to external sources doesn’t leave space for the business to evolve and grow. Moreover, internalizing rejection as a personal failing often leads to decreased self-esteem and could lead to less persistence to try for similar goals in the future. 

There are countless examples of successful businesses that worked through various failures and rejections until they became more sustainable on their own. In fact, rejection and failure are inevitable. The most important part of rejection is not the rejection itself, but how you can move forward from it and use it to your advantage. Using the rejection to motivate and drive your progress forward can be a great tool to spark new ideas. Staying determined through the ups and downs of the trial-and-error process is key in continuing a successful business. 

It’s important to mention that everyone responds to rejection and failure differently and that these are potential tools to move forward. Some common tips to move forward from rejection are as follows: 

  • Give yourself the time to adequately process the rejection. Taking time to process a rejection can be a good time for reflection and considering the next steps. Giving yourself the space to consider what could be changed, what your goals are and potential new ideas for how to move forward is essential for success, even without the driving force of rejection. Rejection can give you the space to reconsider your values and what you could change in your next endeavour. 
  • Rely on your support system. Having colleagues, family, friends and a community to lean on is important in order to have a place to open up and receive encouragement and support after receiving news of rejection. For the ODEY project participants, it’s important to know that the ODEY network aims to create a space for support from fellow participants. In facing rejection, relying on a support system can allow for new perspectives and advice on how to move forward. 
  • Maintain your focus on your goals. In facing rejection, it’s important to remember that an outside opinion of your work is often uncontrollable. If you can re-focus on the parts of your business that you can control, this will allow you to have a new way to move forward. 
  • View rejection as an opportunity. Obviously, it would be ideal if there was no rejection. However, rejection is a part of starting any new idea, and it’s brave to put your ideas out into the world. Having the strength to remain positive and focus on your own personal journey will allow you to focus on the next steps and this “no” as an opportunity to change and work towards the next “yes”. 


Addis, F. S. (2012). Using rejection as a motivator. Rough Notes (Indianapolis), 155(11), 98.