Negative feedback can cut like a knife, especially when you’ve worked so hard to produce or achieve something.
But when you are an entrepreneur, you need all of the feedback you can get so that you know what you are doing well, and what you need to improve on.
With the exponential growth of technology, and the ability to share information across the world, knowing about your negative feedback is a crucial part of handling your business well.
After all, how can you address something that you aren’t aware of, ignore, or hide from?
The fear of negative feedback can paralyze some entrepreneurs, and even prevent larger or more established organization from taking any kind of risk.
The trouble with hesitation, however, is that you don’t get to collect incredibly valuable insights from your target audience, which can help you iterate in the right ways.
Getting your products or services out in front of your customer will let you know really quickly what your next step should be, and how to formulate a strategy for increased success.
Encourage Negative Feedback
When it comes to getting feedback, those closest to your inner circle may be hesitant to say anything negative (i.e. helpful) for fear of hurting your feelings or damaging the relationship.
Most of us have friends, or family, that will put a positive spin on almost everything we do, no matter how great, or not-so-great, it might be.
So it’s important to seek out and encourage feedback from those that don’t have a vested interest in your personal feelings.
Getting truthful, objective, and unbiased feedback on whichever product or service you offer, is crucial in understanding how you measure up in your market.
It’s also the key to discovering mistakes or oversights that were missed by you, or your team.
If you only paid attention to glowing reviews and positive feedback, you wouldn’t be able to grow, or change, in ways that can help you and your business.
So invite the criticisms, along with the accolades, in order to get a look at the entire picture.
Have Tough Conversations
YouTube comments, Facebook posts, Amazon reviews, Tweets, Instagram messages….feedback can, and does, come from anywhere and everywhere.
Keep a close eye on any and all comments being made about you, your business, and the impressions that others have of the work.
Don’t be afraid to probe deeper when you do come across a negative review, and keep an open mind so that you can pinpoint the learning opportunities within each one.
If you want to read an excellent article about protecting your online reputation specifically, check out this article by Ryan Erskine for Entrepreneur.
Understand How the Market Works
When you’re in business, the buck doesn’t stop at the CEO’s desk, it stops at the customer’s wallet.
One of the greatest quotes on recognizing the power of the market comes from Sam Walton, founder of WalMart:
There’s one boss. The Customer. And he can fire everybody from the CEO down.
~ Sam Walton, Founder of WalMart
He understood that, no matter how well you think you are doing, the only thing that matters at the end of the day, is how the customer sees you.
And how the customer sees you determines whether or not they are willing to do business with you.
So no matter how uncomfortable it may be to hear feedback that you disagree with, or simply never considered, it’s still important to recognize it.
It’s also important to take it seriously.
A lot of companies are tempted to dismiss feedback from their consumers, or clients, thinking that they know what is best for them in the end.
Do that long enough, and your customer will move on to find a business that does listen to their feedback and take action.
By looking at negative feedback as an opportunity for growth and understanding, you remove the fear, encourage dialogue, and guide your business down the long road to success.