Guest Post: Alex Conde:
In the business world, especially if you are your own business, you’ll get a lot of criticism. In fact, in order to start a business, you often have to tune out a lot of criticism. As a result, entrepreneurs and creative thinkers often grow a thick skin that turns aside all criticism. After all, if you had listened to that criticism, you would have never started a business in the first place!
The danger of this is that it can lead to ivory tower thinking, which leads to mistakes which cost you business. Everybody loves attention to detail – that’s one of the reasons Apple has done so well. However, if you’re a brilliant writer, you might not be the best at useable website design. Or, if you’re a brilliant web designer, you might not write the clearest call-to-action on your “work with me” page.
So, as bizarre as it seems, I recommend asking people for criticism of your work. It’s not always easy to take, and a fair bit of any criticism won’t be constructive in the least, but here are five reasons why you should solicit criticism of your business:
- You’re too close and you know too much: You’ve lived with this idea. You brought it into being with sweat, tears and hard work. Being an entrepreneur is hard, thankless work. However, by living with your business 24/7, you’ve become too close to it. You can’t look at it with a truly fresh set of eyes.
- Editing your own work is hard: When you’re in love with an idea enough to try and make a business of it, giving up on part of that idea is incredibly difficult. In addition, the thinking process that led you to make certain decisions will likely support leaving them as-is. You need to get into an entirely different mindset to review your work constructively.
- It’s better to find your mistakes before your customers do: Small issues that seem trivial can have huge impacts on the customer experience. Speaking personally, if any website has issues with their shopping cart, I lose trust immediately. If they can’t take my money properly (the part of the process that benefits them the most) how can I trust their products or services to benefit me?
- Analytics can’t tell you all the story: Analytics are amazing. Frankly, I love Google Analytics with a passion, as it lets you follow the footsteps of everyone as they go through your website. However, the story your analytics tell you is the “what” and “where”, but they don’t tell you the “why”. I’ve pulled my hair out a few times trying to find the answer to a “why” question. From my extensive experience with this, I recommend just asking people. Sometimes it saves you a world of stress.
- It can fuel you: As I mentioned at the start, not all your criticism will be constructive. The ability to give truly constructive criticism without being overly negative is a talent that isn’t commonly held. If you open yourself up to constructive criticism, you will get negativity – however, that can just be one more person who you have the satisfaction of proving wrong.
While asking for criticism might not be fun, it can be a great way to move your business forward and help you find (and fix) your mistakes and challenges before they hurt you. So, find someone out there and ask them what they think. You might be pleasantly surprised at the feedback you receive, and if you aren’t you still get the satisfaction of proving someone else wrong.