One of my mentors is fond of saying, “if you don’t offend at least two people a day, you aren’t saying anything.”
I don’t know about the number, but I do know the only way to not be criticized is to do nothing. To say nothing. And to be nothing. To cower into the shadows, and hide who you are.
A lesson new entrepreneurs often find difficult to take is this: No matter what you do or how well you do it, there will be people who criticize you, do not like you, do not like the way you do business, and do not like your product. This is a truth of entrepreneurship. It is something you must accept and embrace.
My general advice?
- Criticism is not a “bad” thing. It is only useful or not useful. Take your emotional reaction out of the criticism, decide whether there is merit in what has been said, and act or discard as appropriate.
- Concern yourself more with criticism from people who give you money than people who do not. Sadly, many people in this world gain pleasure by complaining about anything and everything they can and swearing if “you’d just do this one thing” they’d buy. They are usually lying. And often the changes they want will drive away the clients you have.
- Figure out who your best clients are and fight like hell for them. Take up their causes. Make their passions yours. They will love you for it. Yes, you will accumulate people who dislike you for “rocking the boat”, and your business will thrive like you wouldn’t believe!
I love entrepreneurs. They are the people who make our society as great as it is. And they are the people who will correct what is wrong, and make good things even better. To anyone giving their blood, sweat, and tears to an idea; to anyone rocking the boat to do something many would train out of us; to the people who will shake up the norm and give us new possibilities; you have my utmost appreciation and respect.
I love this quote from Teddy Roosevelt. It’s a great reminder for entrepreneurs, and a great way to close this entry…
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could actually have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again.
Because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
– Theodore Roosevelt