Shadiah Sigala did not know she would be a serial entrepreneur.
After graduating from the Harvard Kennedy School, she worked in project management at Aetna but realized quickly that corporate life and being a single cog in a big machine were not for her.
“I’ve heard about this thing called entrepreneurship,” she says she thought as she considered her next career move. “There’s something there.”
Long a fan of experimenting with cooking, Sigala elected to work as a personal chef for a year, then moved to San Francisco with her husband and discovered tech. Having experienced the cumbersome nature of running the backend of a business, in 2013, Sigala co-founded HoneyBook, a platform for financial management for small businesses.
The company took off, and as of 2021, HoneyBook is valued at more than $2 billion.
After five years there, in 2018, Sigala co-founded her second tech venture, Kinside, a child-care marketplace. The company has raised more than $16 million thus far, according to Crunchbase, and she’s currently serving as its CEO.
Despite her many successes, among the challenges Sigala has faced is rejection. “Getting no’s from investors is like par for the course” for her line of work, she says. Sometimes even dozens in succession.
For anyone facing rejection in their own career, however it plays out, here’s her advice.
‘Feel the feelings’
To begin with, “Feel the feelings” that come with getting a no from a potential investor, employer, boss and so on, she says.
Rejection hurts and, “it’s OK,” she says. “You’re disappointed or you’re mad.” Identify what it is you’re feeling, honor it and don’t judge yourself for it.
“The more that you get acquainted with that initial sting,” Sigala says, and let your body process whatever it needs to for as long as it needs to, the easier it’ll then be to move forward and get back to doing your job or trying again.
Think: ‘I’m going to be smarter next time’
Second, she says, “If you are not learning from rejection, then you also are just feeling the pain of rejection needlessly.”
Every no is an opportunity to get better. In the case of pitching your company to investors, says Sigala, when they ultimately give you feedback about why they’re not investing, take note of the reason and improve your pitch.
“I already know what their objection is going to be,” she says of how she’d approach the next one. “Let me get ahead of that. Let me switch my story and present this data sooner.”
In the case of getting critical feedback on the job, take that feedback and consider steps to do your job better next time. If you’re applying for jobs and not hearing back, reach out to some recruiters along the way and see if they are willing to tell you why they didn’t ultimately respond.
The point is to take that rejection and think, “I’m going to be smarter next time,” she says. “I’m not going to put myself in this trap.” Then consider your next steps and act on it.
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