How To Respond To Feedback

The conventional wisdom in business about feedback is that it’s very important and you must always listen to it and act upon it. Which is all very well and good, but like all conventional wisdom can be a little simplistic. This isn’t my experience of how the real business world works.

Listening To The First Person You Hear

One danger in hearing feedback is that you react to the first person who gives you some feedback. Maybe when you have an idea for a new product, or a whole new business. Maybe you haven’t got it all completely worked out yet, and you tell someone about it, and they seem doubtful, or tell you that it’s a rubbish idea. So you don’t go ahead, and you always regret it…… That could have been the one that made you a million.

Listening To Lots Of Opinions

Have you ever been in the situation where lots of people give you feedback, but it’s all different? It’s too expensive It should be bright blue You should make it out of recycled carrots It should be olive green This situation is often accompanied by people generating lots of ideas: Why don’t we…… All of this feedback makes you very confused, and worse than confused, you can end up feeling guilty that you aren’t doing everything that everyone suggests. This can lead to a particular form of analysis paralysis – you do nothing because you cannot form a clear view. And we know that doing nothing is unlikely to make you a millionaire.

Where Feedback Doesn’t Fit With Your Strategy

So you’ve done some planning and you’ve worked out what you’re doing with your business. And then someone gives you some feedback which sows those insidious seeds of doubt. Often, this is when a potential customer doesn’t buy, or someone says that your product is too expensive. Remember that not everyone is going to buy though, even with the best product and the best salesperson in the world. Your product is not going to be right for everyone.

Sometimes, feedback can fit neatly into your own doubts, especially when you’re trying something new or slightly uncomfortable. Wait until you have a little more evidence to go on before adjusting your strategy – have the courage of your convictions as Mr Hopkins used to tell me when I was 9 years old (it’s all his fault you know). Maybe it’s going to take some time to sell, or you’re going to have to do some more work to get it front of the right target market.

Maybe You Disagree With The Feedback

Sometimes the feedback you get is just plain wrong. It’s a stupid idea – I wouldn’t buy that said a friend of mine about a music download business. But this friend has never paid for music in his life, he’s one of those guys whose computer is full of illegal downloads, which he spends hours organising.

He’s not the right target market, but lots of other people are. There are a lot of women here someone said with a disapproving look on his face at a Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce meeting. 48% of our members are female. What would happen if I took this seriously, and acted on it? I’d have to ban women and resign myself!

You Decide

Ultimately, running a business means you have to decide. Listen to what people say, and encourage them to tell you what they think. But you have to decide – that’s what being the boss means.

Need Some Help With Your Business Decisions?

Maybe you’ve been getting some confusing feedback and you’re not sure what path to take with your business. Although you still have to decide the best course of action, you know where to come if you want some structured serious help with making the right decisions to move your business forward.

Do get in touch if you’d like some help.

Photo credit – Wild by Dan McCullough

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The Joy of Business
Secrets of Business Success
Julia Chanteray