Launching a startup is no easy task. It is an iterative process that relies heavily in the need to contact several stakeholders in order to validate a business idea. Team members, mentors, potential customers, partners, suppliers and investors, all give valuable feedback to a startup…but the feedback is not always positive.
Receiving negative feedback is one of the many challenges a startup must face, and it is especially difficult since it can be discouraging and it is easy to take it personally and get offended. Nevertheless, negative feedback can actually be more valuable than positive feedback, since it is part of a learning process that will save you time and money and let you know what you are missing and what can be improved.
In this article, we collect some tips for startups to handle negative feedback and use it in their advantage:
1. Get perspective and accept the other person’s point of view
Most often, feedback is given by people who invested their time and energy to talk to you and give you constructive criticism about your idea. Don’t personalize the feedback you receive. Avoid getting emotional or angry and trying to convince them you are right. The process of feedback gathering is not about winning an argument but about collecting valuable information.
2. Get a deeper understanding of the feedback
Try to understand the “why” behind the feedback. Unbundle the several points of your value proposition in order to understand which ones are receiving negative feedback and why. And do not hesitate to ask additional information about the feedback.
3. Take notes and analyze them
Feedback is usually given in a quick and not always direct manner. Don’t suppose you will be able to remember all the feedback that was given to your project. Take notes of the most important points mentioned and, latter on, take your time to analyze them.
4. Understand the “context” of the feedback
When was the feedback told and by whom? When analyzing the feedback, it is important to understand the biases behind it. Distinguish between opinion, experience and fact. You also have to distinguish between form and content: did they criticize your idea because it was not solid or because you were not able to communicate it properly?
5. Extract value from feedback
Use the feedback to take decisions and change. Assess the most important learning points and incorporate them in your strategy. Be cautious: extracting value from feedback does not always mean to follow every advice you are given. In fact, often startups receive contradictory pieces of advice and they must reason them and decide on the best direction to go.
6. Move Forward
Feedback is meant to be received, thought and incorporated. After doing this, don’t get discouraged or overthink about the criticism you received. Move forward.