Success has a lot to do with momentum. What sets those who achieve their goals apart? They keep moving the ball down the court. They don't let obstacles derail them. They hang in there. What does that look like in practice? Abandoning fear of rejection, for one. Fear of rejection is crippling! We make the mistake of taking things personally when they're really just business. My advice? Be willing to ask for a yes or a no. Even better? Go one step further and get comfortable asking. Who has time to waste? Not you. Let me explain.

My expertise is in licensing product ideas for passive income, but this advice applies broadly. I often hear a version of the following story. After studying the market, developing a simple improvement to an existing product that offers a big benefit, creating a sell sheet, filing a provisional patent application, making a list of companies to contact, and reaching out to said companies -- lo and behold, you hear back. A company is interested! You're thrilled. Surprised even. Now what?

They have some questions for you -- like, do you have a prototype? So you set up a conference call. After establishing a rapport and supplying them with the information they need, they tell you they're going to evaluate the idea and get back to you. And then you wait. And wait. And wait. Eventually, it feels like forever has gone by! What gives? You know they're interested, or at least were. You have the email exchanges to prove it. But for whatever reason, progress has stalled. Momentum has ground to a halt.

You're not alone. I've experienced this exact scenario many times throughout my career as a product artist. What I suggest you do next took me many, many years to figure out. To be honest, there were times when I was just happy someone was looking at my idea. I was content with that, I guess. Don't be. I know better now.

Because the truth is sometimes you have to ask for a no to receive a yes.

It's simple. Send them an email asking, "Are you still interested? If so, what are the next steps?" You're giving them one last chance. If they aren't interested, you're ready to move on. You need to make that clear. The good news is if they are truly interested, they will get back to you quickly. This strategy is extremely effective; my students use it all the time.

We forget other people are busy. Why haven't they gotten back to me, we wonder silently. They're avoiding me, we think. We let our emotions run wild. We despair. But in reality, people go on vacation. The company might need to show your idea to their overseas manufacturer. Maybe they need to get it to a retailer. You just don't know. If you let your imagination run wild, you'll end up pulling your hair out.

Asking for a no doesn't feel good. You were so excited to hear from them. Now you're setting yourself up to be potentially rejected? I get it. But, you need to be able to do it. You can't let anyone hold you up. Time is extremely important in terms of dollars. So be polite, yet firm.

It's a balancing act, of course. Being patient is also necessary. How can you determine what's an appropriate length of time to wait and what's not? Ask. All companies and people have a way of doing things. What is their process for reviewing new ideas? How often do they meet to review new ideas? What can you expect? You need to give them enough time to do their job.

The only way to find out is to ask. Be courageous. It's the quickest way to regain momentum and keep moving forward.