Hearing 'No': 4 Reasons Sucessful Architects Get Told 'No' Often

May 7, 2023

Tyler Suomala

Founder of Growthitect

At different points in your journey, you’ll notice fear creeping in and preventing you from doing what’s best for you and your business.

  • Fear of not knowing what to do next

  • Fear of wasting your time

  • Fear of rejection

Have you noticed this in your own experience? It’s that last one that I’ve found to be a huge blocker when firms are ramping up their business development (BD) efforts. Most people don’t realize the opportunity and necessity of being told “no”. And it holds them back.

What happens when a fear of rejection takes hold in your business?

  • You only pursue jobs that you think you can win.

  • You don’t give yourself the opportunity to grow and expand.

  • You leave pools of potential clients and projects on the table.

Basically, you feel like you’re pinned against the wall and unable to pursue desired opportunities or test the waters. It’s not a great spot to be.

Here’s the deal:

Winning business development strategies require hearing “no” A LOT.

Why is that? BD is the system that nurtures and sells your services to clients. And selling is a losing game - even for the best sellers in the world. If you're selling correctly, you'll hear "no" more often than "yes." But that's okay because growth isn't about your win percentage, it's about your attempts.

So if you often wonder to yourself whether the healthiest architecture firms get told “no”, the answer is a resounding “Abso-freakin’-lutely”. All the time. Every week. And more often than not.

Winning firms are simply trying to get more jobs. And they’re trying harder than their competitors. They pursue jobs that they’re unsure if they can get. They make relationships with people and companies that are outside of their current ICP. They constantly expand and build their network.

So it’s a good idea to regularly ask yourself:

  • How many jobs do I try to get now?

  • Is the fear of rejection preventing me from pursuing work?

  • What would it look like if I doubled or tripled the amount of projects I pursue?

Here’s how you can prevent a fear of rejection from minimizing your BD:

  1. Talk to more people. Don't limit yourself to your usual network. Reach out to new people, attend events, and build relationships with people and businesses outside of your typical market.

  2. Get told "no" more often. This might sound counterintuitive, but it's essential. You want to shift your mindset away from fearing “no” to chasing “no”. Every "no" is an opportunity to learn and improve. The more you hear "no" the better you're BD strategy will become.

  3. Get feedback. Don’t take “no” at face value. The real work begins after a prospective client tells you “no”. Ask them why it doesn't make sense and where you fell short. Perhaps there was a specific aspect of your proposal that did not resonate with them, or they felt more comfortable with a different approach.

  4. Make adjustments. Their feedback is invaluable to your growth. Based on the feedback you receive, make adjustments to your approach. Try new things, experiment, and don't be afraid to fail.

And don’t look back. Because the real growth happens when you realize that every “no” is one step closer to hearing “yes” 😉


It’s great, normal, and healthy to get told “no” often. If you want to win more work and attract high-quality clients, pursue more work and treat “no” as an opportunity improve your BD strategy.

  1. Talk to more people.

  2. Get told “no” more often.

  3. Get feedback.

  4. Make adjustments.

Consider this newsletter as your starting point because I’ll never write “no” this many times again 😂

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