How Entrepreneurs Can Benefit From Valuable Feedback When it comes to advice, it's very important to be able to listen, but more importantly still, to choose who exactly we listen to.
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It's safe to assume that all entrepreneurs have had to deal with unsolicited feedback at some point in their journey. When starting out, we are usually excited to share our business plans, but quickly get caught up in having to listen to business advice from people who don't understand our business. These people are most often all too quick to point out the negatives and obstacles rather than offer valuable solutions, and this can be aggravating.
Let me start by expressing why it's important to get feedback: no success will come by only listening to our business assumptions. No matter how much we assess our business model and strategy, we stand to gain tremendous clarity when speaking to others. It is through feedback that we can confirm whether our business goals are reaching the right people or losing them within the first few seconds, significantly affecting sales. Having business conversations can really give entrepreneurs valuable revelations about if they're on the right track. As a business advisor myself, I couldn't have gotten where I am today had I not reached out to the right people for feedback and advice. However, I've also learned not to listen to just anybody. Feedback is very important, but there are a few things that I recommend you consider prior to reaching out to people.
Don't assume that others know best
Sometimes we are modest and assume that others automatically know better than us or have more experience. This is not always true. There are so many people who are great at the talk but bad at the execution, so don't just assume that others know more than you simply because they're great at speaking. Only you have dedicated the hours and sometimes years to create your business, and only you hold that unique vision that others can't see, so trust that you have a business of value and that not everybody knows more than you.
Related: When to Selectively Listen to Feedback and Ignore What Users Say
Do protect your concepts
The biggest reason a business doesn't succeed is due to a lack of money and strategy, so if you share your idea with someone who has access to capital, they can easily hire a team to execute it. It depends on the idea, of course; starting a business takes a lot of dedication and real commitment. Not everybody will steal an idea, but if you have something truly unique, this could be your opportunity to change your life and your future. So be selective when seeking advice, and better yet, be formal and have advisors sign a non-disclosure agreement. This formality will make it clear to others that you are serious about your business and your intellectual property.
Get real experts
You could do this by hiring business advisors; an advantage is that everything you share will remain confidential, and experts will also have the proper approach to ask you the tough questions, while still remaining sensitive to all of your efforts and concerns. Conversely, non-experts may be insensitive to you and cause more damage than good with their feedback. Moreover, business advisors have experience and education – they have invested in themselves to be in this position, which is something that most people lack, so relying on experts could really help your business succeed.
Related: Where to Find Genuine Experts When You Need Consultants for Your Business
Avoid your peers
Your peers – fellow entrepreneurs or those who are dealing with the same struggles as you – are not the best advisors. This is a common pitfall because we feel comfortable reaching out to someone who we feel we can trust and who can strongly relate to our emotions. However, while they may be good listeners, they may not be the best people to advise us and help us reach a breakthrough. Sometimes reaching out to inexperienced people can be a waste of time, and could potentially be nothing but draining to both of you.
Look at their business model before considering criticism from others
We often ask for support but receive unrequested criticism. In order for this to not be aggravating, we should stop and evaluate what position the person is criticizing from. Very often, their business models, target customers, industry and the way they monetize are completely different from our business model, meaning they aren't in a position to be able to criticize or give advice. We should not consider the criticism of someone who monetizes by selling a product for less than $20 or for free if we're aiming to sell products in luxury hotels or another more upper-scale environment. The business plans are completely different. By taking the time to recognize this, we can avoid seeking advice from the wrong people or prevent unsolicited criticism from affecting us emotionally.
Do research groups and test product sessions
These sessions can be powerful and assertive. Create events to listen to potential customers and test your products with people who fit your target market. You will get real validation and valuable information that will actually support your goals. Believe me, it's worth the time and effort, and since most people love to give their opinion, it's not hard to find people to be part of these research groups, especially if you're also willing to pay a small reward fee.
Avoid giving explanations
This is simply a waste of time. Sometimes we bother to explain our plans to people, including family, but it's best to avoid this unless they're business partners. Being private is usually the best practice – and it also keeps us sane.
It's okay to accept it when someone gives us great advice
This is also great practice when it comes to building relationships. Sometimes we may not like what we have to hear, only to later realize that the advice was actually good and will help us in the long run. We can always be thankful for this.
Trust your instincts
This is always best practice. It will save us from many future regrets and hold us accountable. After all, entrepreneurs are CEOs in training, so we must learn to trust ourselves.
Grow your network
As your business is growing and evolving, so will you. By growing your network, you will be able to achieve higher levels and continue your personal growth as well.
Starting and growing a business can be an exciting journey, but it can often feel confusing, overwhelming, and lonely. Having the right support can make the difference between being able to see positive results according to our timeline or wasting valuable years learning the hard lessons. Choose wisely and make it worth it.