5 tips to help you embrace feedback, even when it seems painfully difficult to do so

5 tips to help you embrace feedback, even when it seems painfully difficult to do so

Most female entrepreneurs struggle in the beginning to call themselves a founder or CEO, let alone an entrepreneur. They are often happy, as I was, to just be recognised as a woman with a bright idea that wants to pursue it passionately. They often struggle with self-confidence and imposter syndrome. They know too well that they do not have all of the skills or attributes that are required of a successful entrepreneur. They know they are going to have to “fake it until they make it”.

That would all be OK, if early in their entrepreneurial journey they were not confronted by feedback from every direction. Every potential investor, every accelerator or incubator, every potential customer and even just the guy next door. Much of this feedback is aimed at being constructive and well-intentioned, but is often negative in nature.

Despite knowing that feedback is good, the overwhelming amount of “constructive criticism” can feel like the last straw. It can cripple your confidence and you may find it hard to keep moving forwards. Should you even bother trying if it is going to be this hard?

I was a victim of this scenario, when what I perceived as overwhelming negative feedback, left me feeling deflated and questioning my capability and the ultimate success of my business. Below are some strategies that I developed to keep going, not lose my sense of self-worth and turn that negative, but well-intentioned feedback, into a positive outcome for me and my business.

  • Let the hurt pass – I don’t think you can ever take away the feeling of hurt when either you or your idea is criticised or questioned. Accept that it will hurt and that it is part of the process of self-development. Before you know it, the hurt will pass and you will then be able to process what you have been told. 

    • You are one of the lucky ones – Being an entrepreneur is hard and a successful journey is often dependent upon the advice of others that have come before you. Many other entrepreneurs are not getting great feedback and keep making obvious mistakes that derail their opportunity. Be grateful that someone is taking the time to share their experience and advice, no matter how hard it is to hear.

      • Find the positive – In every piece of advice there will be a take home message that will help you in some way. Once the emotions have settled, go back to the feedback and objectively determine what they were trying to tell you and why. How can you adapt your style or business to take on this advice?

        • Decide whether to embrace it – It is impossible to take on all feedback as it is often conflicting and voluminous in nature. Once you accept the intent of the feedback, decide whether it is the right choice to embrace it and embed it in your start-up? On my entrepreneurial journey I saw many founders benefit greatly from feedback and I saw others that ignored feedback and went on to be incredibly successful. You are the only one to decide, but make sure you do it with a clear head.

          • Store it away for later – Sometimes I received feedback that I could not embrace at the time, but many years later I understood where and how it could help my business. Just because it is not the right advice for now, make sure you keep it in the back of your mind, as there are many twists and turns in an entrepreneurial journey and you never know when you are going to have to pivot.

          Embracing feedback when you are vulnerable is hard, but if you can control the emotion associated with negative comments or criticism you will grow into a better founder. Take it all onboard, take time to process what you are told and consider yourself lucky that you have people around you that care about your success. Becoming resilient is one of the hardest parts of your entrepreneurial journey, but it will be the key to your success.

          Jenny Aiken

          Jenny Aiken was chosen for the SBE Australia by Springboard Enterprises Tech Accelerator Program as Co-Founder & CEO of Life Cell Marine Safety. Jenny completed our female evolve program as a part of our 2017 cohort.

          Jenny has previously contributed to the SBE Australia blog, where she spoke about how “Sometimes You Won’t Be Able To Sleep”.