The Entrepreneur’s New Clothes: The Importance of Securing Real Feedback Instead of Fluff
As children many of us read the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes in which a powerful emperor was tricked into believing that he was wearing exquisite garments when he was, in fact, naked. No one from the emperor’s team told him the truth for fear losing their jobs so he walked the streets of the kingdom naked until at last a young child cried out that he was indeed naked, exposing the ruse.
Every day a similar story plays out for entrepreneurs and small business owners. We work so hard at our newest service, product, or blog post and, when we are finished, we want to be told that what we have created is amazing, that its beauty is beyond compare. But what if we are actually just flapping in the breeze?
We need to find people like that little boy who aren’t afraid to tell us the truth.
There’s a lot of material out there about how entrepreneurs are supposed to beat their own path and it’s been said that when someone tells you that you’re crazy then you’re on the right track. I’m not disputing any of that. Some of my best ideas have been things that many thought probably wouldn’t work. What I am saying is that the creator is not necessarily able to see both the good and bad in the creation.
We need people who are going to be honest with us about what is and is not working. We need people who can give us the tough feedback as well as the praise. When we allow ourselves to be surrounded with people who only compliment the work we do and never give us any constructive criticism, we do more damage than good.
The question, then, is: how do we find these people?
One of the best things you can do is to ask someone outside of your industry what they think. I have been approached many times by people who have written shows who brag that they had standing ovations night after night. I then question how long the show ran and who was in the audience. If it was three performances and most of the audience was comprised of friends and family, of course you are going to get standing ovations. You have to consider what happens once people outside of friends and family start coming.
If you are currently working on a project, think of someone who is not in the trenches with you and who would take a look and give you some honest feedback. You may not like what they have to say but I can promise you that you will hear something that you haven’t heard yet.
If you are asking around and everyone you ask tells you that you’re brilliant, that’s not helpful. You can’t reach the top of the mountain if everyone around you is telling you that you’re there already. You need people in your life who will tell you when you’re doing work that is sub-par.
You need people to tell you when you’re naked.
So today, take any aspect of your business and invite some real feedback. I’m sure you’ll discover something new and whatever you decide to improve upon will benefit all of us.