Whether it’s landing a new client or nailing a design presentation, rejection happens—especially in the early stages of building your interior design business. What I’ve learned? It’s all about accepting rejection as a wise friend—rough edges included. Just around the corner is a whole ton of resilience, business growth and personal strides.
So, let’s get ourselves acquainted! Here are my top 5 tips for coping with rejection and getting to the bright side, stronger:
Accept that it sucks, but don’t sit in it.
I believe in the power of positivity, but that doesn’t mean keeping it all buttoned up with a smile. Let’s let ourselves be human and call it like it is: Rejection sucks! Those feelings of disappointment are a strong indicator that you’re ALL in on building your interior design business—you care, and you’re the real deal. So, allow yourself to feel the feels. Then? Remind yourself that it’s not a personal failure, and make the conscious choice to move on. When that’s easier said than done, checking in with a mentor can make all the difference (ask about my flexible 1:1 interior design business mentorship here).
Take action to level up from the lessons.
As Marie Forleo of Everything is Figureoutable puts it: “I win or I learn, but I never lose.” If a potential client goes another direction, ask yourself if there’s an opportunity to learn (spoiler alert: there will always be an opportunity to learn).
The one you thought you’d seal the deal with, only to hear “no” out of left field? That’s where the real gold is. Don’t let the chance to refine your process pass by. If you feel lost on your process altogether, my upcoming interior design business course removes the guesswork! Sign up for first access here. You might even find the door isn’t all the way closed. At DWK Interiors, we once got a “no” from a client who felt like such a clear “yes” during the consultation. Reaching out to understand why allowed us to reiterate our process and provide reassurance. And guess what? That conversation ended with a “yes”!
Rejection also happens within the design process. You should go into every design presentation with total confidence, but be realistic and open—it’s a collaborative journey. When a client doesn’t love something, dig into exactly what and why. You’ll learn even more about their design style and what makes them tick, which empowers a stronger final outcome.
The bottom line: It takes guts to pick up the phone and ask where you fell short, but you’ve got ‘em. And the lessons are SO worth it.
Embrace it as redirection.
When I see my interior design business mentees stewing in rejection, I remind them that a “no” isn’t a setback—it’s a step closer to the “YESSS”. To clarity. To a natural groove. To an ideal client. In many cases, it’s a blessing in disguise! I can recall a few times that I ignored my gut about a client fit or project scope—and thank goodness we didn’t sign, even if we were disappointed in the moment.
A scarcity mindset can block your ability to embrace redirection big time. Remember: There will always be another client around the corner that’s better suited to you and vice versa. P.S. If you’re unsure how often you need to hear “yes” for your desired growth, every opportunity can feel like the end-all be-all. With my Business Model Planner, you’ll gain a realistic view on how high the stakes really are (or aren’t).
Take honest stock of how you managed.
It’s worth doing personal post-mortems on how you handle rejection, especially early on. The key here isn’t to stack shame on top of rejection—it’s to become self aware and resilient. After all, you just might be leading a team someday! Ask yourself: Did the rejection emotionally derail you for days? Did you lose sleep over it? Did it negatively affect other projects or interactions? And how can you break the pattern next time? Cultivate an intentional practice, whether it’s a walk to clear your head and reflect, a good sweat followed by some journaling, or an honest conversation with an experienced interior design business mentor—like me!
Remember that no one is exempt (ever).
When you’re committed to victory, potential rejection is part of the deal. It’s a natural, inevitable component in making your dreams happen. The truth is, whether you’re just earning your stripes or a seasoned pro, not every conversation will end with a “yes.” I’m over 10 years, 400+ homes and a seven-figure business into the interior design industry, and I STILL taste rejection. What I can promise you is this: With time and perspective, it stings less, but the lessons are just as rich.
Wrapping it up.
So, maybe rejection isn’t your most “fun” friend, but it has your back in a roundabout way. No matter what stage you’re at in building your interior design business, you can lean on these tips starting today (yep, right now!).
Curious about how I can empower you to create a fulfilling and profitable interior design business? Sign up for my newsletter and follow along for IG for all the latest on my Interiors Business Crash Course. In the meantime, here’s a taste of what I’ve got to teach!
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