Business and criticism go hand in hand.
When you don't receive criticism as an entrepreneur, it leaves you questioning whether you're doing the right things, or not.
There is not a single person on this earth who has surmounted the challenges of success and not faced any criticism in the process.
A lot of people dislike critics, they don't know how to handle it and feel like they'd be a lot better off without any sort of criticism.
When I owned an agency, I would send outreach messages with the fear that I'll get criticized doing so.
"What if the prospect lashes out on me?"
I was worried that people would take their rage out on me for trying to help their business out - and it did happen... quite a lot.
Prospects never liked to be messaged, emailed, or called, out of the blue.
A lot of them lashed out, but it only made me realize that I have nothing to be scared of.
I said to myself, 'my audience is probably spending their time getting criticized themselves!' and I moved on to the next.
There are many ways to handle criticism in business as an entrepreneur, in fact, it can be the driving factor for your success.
Whilst a lot of people try to avoid this sort of conflict whenever possible, others thrive from it and can't get enough.
Another example is when I launch new products - I'm afraid of criticism, even though I know it's what will help me build a better product and keep progressing.
Launching Hawk Prospecting was scary because I didn't know how people will react.
The realization that I would inevitably need to find out if I want to make my dreams flourish is what tipped me over the edge, influencing my decision to launch.
So how do you build the stomach to handle criticism?
Here are 4 ways to handle business criticism as an entrepreneur.
Spot the opportunity
A lot of people are scared of receiving a bit of criticism because they're worried to face their flaws.
What they don't realize is that there's a hidden opportunity in every single critique.
Criticism is another way of saying 'improvement opportunity,' it highlights a flaw that you yourself may not have been able to see and gives you the chance to fix it.
Being criticized will always be scary when that's all you see it as - criticism.
However, when you change the way you think about it and turn it into a learning opportunity, you'll be able to find something that can help you improve.
For example, whilst running Hawk Prospecting, I received a few critiques about the tool.
People tell me a variety of different things - 'the data is X,' 'why can I not do Y?' and so on.
A few weeks, maybe months, ago, I hated these sorts of comments - I didn't like people identifying the problems with my product.
It was the perfectionist in me who was running the show.
However, when I realized that all these comments are an opportunity to build a better product, everything for me changed.
I started to wake up every day and work towards receiving more criticism.
When I did my outreach, I would tell people to tell me everything they don't like about the product.
I would tell them how important honest feedback is and how it can help me build a better product for them in the future.
Trying to avoid criticism is like walking on eggshells.
You're going to question every single decision you make, no matter how small.
You're going to be scared of making the wrong decision because you don't want to be criticized for it.
as soon as you let go of this mindset and shift the way you perceive criticism, you'll have a lot more freedom to make decisions and succeed.
Stop being scared of receiving criticism, it might be the thing that catapults your business.
Look at it through a different lens.
Start to analyze each criticism and find the hidden opportunity.
Don't dwell on it
Back in school when I got into a fight, I would think about it for the entire day.
Sometimes, I even thought about it for the entire week.
From the moment the fight took place, my mind starts to create new variations of the situation.
When we go back into class, my attention is focused on the fight, not the lesson being taught.
When it's home time, the journey back home is silent - just thinking deeply about what had happened earlier that day.
When I'm sitting down at the dinner table, my mind is still wandering back to the fight.
When I got in the shower is when it really hit me. The silence and the gentle sound of the water amplified my thoughts and made me overthink the situation even longer.
"If I did this, then it would have been different."
"How could I do this, next time?"
The longer I stay in the shower, the further down my mind goes, creating new ideas and alternations.
The similarity between fights in school and criticism is that they're both unavoidable.
They both inevitably happen and so the only thing that we can do is move on.
A lot of people, including myself, tend to overthink the situation.
What good does that really do for anyone?
It's important to remember that everything that happens in the past has already happened.
It's impossible to change the past, but it's possible to influence the future through our actions and decisions in the present.
When you spend a long time overthinking small criticisms, you're going to have a hard time making progress.
No matter who you are, you'll be criticized for what you do - you can't impress everyone.
Trying to change this will only leave you further behind than everyone else.
Ask for feedback
One thing you can do that usually catches critics off guard is ask for feedback.
A lot of the time, critics criticize you to make a point or to assert their power.
When you simply ask them for feedback, it will catch them off guard and show them that you know what you're doing.
This is because there are only a handful of people who actually do this.
Everyone is inherently bad at dealing with criticism.
Therefore, when your response is asking for feedback, you'll realize how most people will be a lot nicer than they seem.
A simple reply like, "I'm sorry you feel that way, what do you think I could do differently to improve?" is all you need to say.
When I used to do my marketing agency outreach, I started off in the real estate niche.
Every day, I would send a bunch of messages to prospective real estate agents who could benefit from my service.
Every once in a while, I'd receive a retaliatory message from someone who wasn't too happy they were contacted.
Sometimes, I would ask for feedback which caught them off guard.
If you're receiving criticism from your target audience, then you should always ask for feedback.
If you manage to get feedback from your own audience, then this is a win because you'll know exactly what they're looking for.
A lot of the time, we do things based on assumptions - our main objective after that is to figure out which of our assumptions were right, which were wrong, and what the truth really is.
We never know what our audience thinks without asking them ourselves.
This provides a stellar situation to do so!
Growing up, I've always been a perfectionist.
Everything I did was done with the intention of getting things right.
I hated failure, and I hated getting beaten by others.
In a desperate pursuit for perfection, I found myself fearful of challenges because I didn't want to come up short.
This natural trait has made it very difficult for me to make a lot of progress quickly in the world of business.
When I started my first business, I was horrified of failing.
I did everything by the books, the same way I had learned to do everything else during school.
I followed YouTube videos and guides to the T, barely steering off course because I didn't want to do anything wrong.
When that business inevitably failed, I started to realize how my approach was flawed.
I saw that speed wins in this game and that focusing on perfection will only ever leave me exactly where I am now.
Instead of focusing on perfection, I now focus on progress and iteration.
As long as I'm moving the ball forward, as long as I'm in a different place from yesterday, then it's a success in my eyes.
The book, 'The Slight Edge,' talks about how small actions compound over time.
No matter how small an action is, it counts as a win in my eyes.
Each win is a barrier broken in my mind that makes me stronger and makes the next barrier easier to overcome.
Success favors progress, not inaction.
When we receive criticism, we're most likely going to feel like we're doing something wrong.
However, when you think about it in the way we've outlined in this article, criticism becomes a vehicle for progress.
We must learn to use criticism as fuel to fly our rocket, not a reason to abandon it.
Every criticism we receive is a point in our favor, a way for us to keep moving forward because someone else has helped us outline the roadmap.
A criticism simply means that we're making progress. If someone has feedback for us about something that we're building, we just need to listen and understand that it's a good thing.
Criticism should be motivation to keep going.
It should help us understand that we've got a product which has potential for success.
Don't shy from criticism, use it as the fuel to keep going.
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