Starting your own business is undoubtedly a huge undertaking that is anything but a smooth voyage along the way. With all the external hurdles to clear and hoops to jump through along the path to starting a successful small business, one of the biggest obstacles that gets in the way of many entrepreneurs is unfortunately an internal one—the fear of criticism.
Here are two major ways that the fear of criticism holds back entrepreneurs from truly reaching their potential, and how to push through this fear in order to continue pursuing your dreams.
Trying to Make Everyone Happy
When making decisions about the direction of your small business and/or its products and services, it can be incredibly easy to feel pressure to make everyone happy.
One group of customers loves one specific function of your product, and wants to see this area continued and improved. This group is incredibly loyal and active, but in reality only makes up a small contingent of your customers. Most users, however, do not care about this specific function, and want to see other areas of functionality increase and improve. These customers are more fickle, but represent larger opportunities for growth than the more niche group of customers.
You know that if you channel the time and energy spent on the niche functionality elsewhere that you could grow your customer base more quickly. However, this also would mean disappointing, if not losing, some of your most passionate customers.
Beyond losing these customers, though, you also face the reality of criticism for whatever decision you make. This is an incredibly difficult situation to face as a business owner, and one that nobody outside your situation can fully answer for you. Even for two companies within the same industry facing similar situations, the correct answer may be polar opposites.
In situations like this, where you face certain criticism regardless of the decision you make, you need to remember that nobody outside of your company can fully understand the situation from your perspective. Even if their complaints are completely valid, you need to make the best choice for your business.
While you should attempt to come up with solutions that make everyone happy, this will frequently be impossible. Be diplomatic and understanding of others’ frustrations when explaining your choice, but do not let it prevent you from making a decision. Otherwise, you are likely to end up missing opportunities or find yourself backed into an even worse situation down the road.
When Others Can’t See Your Vision
Starting your own business is a big leap that requires a great deal of courage. This can be especially true in the earliest stages—when your vision is simply that: a vision. It’s easy and natural to have a fear of criticism because of this—to allow doubt to creep into your mind, making you question your goals, dreams, and plans.
Will other people understand your vision? Will they be supportive? Can you get other people on board in order to achieve your vision?
When first pursuing your vision, you will almost certainly face criticism. After all, entrepreneurship is inherently risky on many levels. You can’t be sure that things will work out in your favor, and you are likely to struggle at some level before reaching any degree of success. This means facing people who question your vision and criticize your decisions.
This shouldn’t be something you fear, though. Instead, you should see it as an opportunity. You need to learn how to utilize emotional intelligence and discern between those who are offering legitimate and helpful advice and those who simply doubt you.
Once you have done this, you can apply this criticism in a few different ways. You should take actual constructive criticism as an opportunity to gain a new perspective on your vision and continue refining your plan in ways you had not thought of yourself. If the criticism does not come from such a helpful place, however, you should use it as motivation to push even harder to turn your dream into a reality.
If others cannot see your vision, or respond negatively to it, it does not mean your vision is necessarily flawed or invalid. There’s a reason that it’s your vision, not theirs. Use their criticism to strengthen your vision, whether it is by refining it, or working even harder to succeed so they have no option except see your vision. By overcoming your fear of criticism as an entrepreneur, you set yourself up for greater success.