No one likes a party pooper. Sometimes, people go out of their way to rain on your parade and talk down about your business. Not all business feedback is created equal. 

 

When someone gives you highly critical feedback, saying your idea is terrible or that it won’t work, these people don’t add value. Ignore them.

…Unless they’re right. Yes, sometimes, they’re right. One of the hardest things you will have to face in this leg of your entrepreneurial journey is knowing when to listen to advice, and knowing when to ignore the noise. 

This is critical, and you can go wrong in two ways:

  • Ignoring negative feedback that would have helped your business.

OR…

  • Listening to negative feedback that has no base or rationale.

Remember that “negative” is not always “bad.” Sometimes, negative feedback is exactly what you need; it is an indication that your business idea needs a pivot or a tweak.

However, if the advice is not strategic and offering a better solution, then you may just want to pretend like it never happened. Remember, when rejecting bad advice, you need to do this tactfully. 

How?

Simply say: “Thanks for sharing your thoughts,” and end the conversation. Once it is clear that the person is not adding anything helpful, don’t entertain the conversation about your business with them any further.

Story About James – Consider the Source

Mobile applications is a tough space to penetrate, so when a client named James reached out to me with his concept, I was blown away with how brilliant his strategy was. He had a vision that could very easily disrupt some big players (think about Yelp and Groupon getting nervous by what James had in mind!). 

However, James was really feeling doubtful his idea would work. I had first thought he was just keeping his excitement at bay, perhaps trying not to get ahead of himself. But, instead, it became obvious that James was concerned that he had a bad idea! 

When I asked him more about it, he confessed that he had his doubts because his brother had thoroughly criticized the business concept. James was a high school dropout, had a modest job as a security officer while his brother was a highly respected engineer. 

James felt that if his super smart brother said the idea was terrible, then it probably was true. 

What James didn’t consider is that his brother — smart as he was — didn’t know anything about the mobile app industry. The business feedback his brother gave was vague at best, and his brother seemed to have doubts in James as an entrepreneur more so than he had any constructive feedback about James’ ideas. 

Unfortunately, this is really common. When entrepreneurial-minded people share ideas, we are often bombarded with negative people and skeptical friends and family members. Sometimes, the skeptics are right, and our ideas are flawed. However, more often, the skeptics are just that — skeptics — with no helpful insights to offer.

So how can you tell the difference?

Listen with an Open Mind

Your business journey will be full of listening to constructive business feedback and knowing when to listen versus when to politely ignore it. You should get used to this, and master it as soon as possible.

To tell the difference, before you shut a conversation down with an investor or family or anyone, encourage the person to brainstorm with you if you disagree with their suggestions about your business. Maybe they can help you see a new perspective on your business that you hadn’t considered before. 

Staying open-minded to changes you may need for your business is one of the biggest ways to ensure long-term success.

If they have no tangible advice or can’t be specific about their idea, you may be dealing with someone who has no intention of actually helping you.

Being able to identify and tune out people who always have something negative to say is easier said than done sometimes — especially if it is a person who you have great respect for (like a family member). Try to stay unbiased, and remember you need to serve your business idea, not another person’s agenda to bring you down a notch.

Ashley Cheeks

Author Ashley Cheeks

Ashley Cheeks is a Business Plan Consultant. Her core business plan writer expertise is in designing business plans for bank and investor funding. She founded Written Success after years of being a professional business plan writer as a freelance consultant, and working for companies including GE and Fluor. She lives in Houston with her husband, daughter and son.

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