Feedback: It's Not Just at Rock Concerts

By Drew Hendricks June 02, 2015

When “feedback” is thinly veiled as constructive criticism (without the constructive) or the equivalent of op-ed pieces without any real actionable insight, what’s the point?

For founders, startups and small business owners, feedback and pivots can be sheer gold—if you know how to listen. In this video from StartupGrind, entrepreneurs discuss what feedback is, how to process it and ask for useful feedback, and pivot points worth dissecting. “Tell me everything you need!” was the battle cry of EventBrite in the early days according to Julia Hartz. However, for this B2B business, their clients also just happened to be their peers.

Many B2B businesses report unique challenges and benefits since they’re on the same level as many of their consumers. “Having them help us build the product,” was crucial says Hartz, head of a ticketing platform that a number of newbie entrepreneurs relied on during the Great Recession. “Try to get as much input from your network as you can,” recommends LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman.

And if you get a bunch of “junk?” Ask yourself two questions: 1) is it really junk or am I just not processing it well and 2) if it is junk, what’s the point in wasting more time stressing about it? Feedback given to you is optional, so don’t let negativity weigh you down.

Problem Solving Made Easy

Remember back in school when the teacher let you figure out a math problem in a group instead of alone? Sure, there were times when the one math genius in the group did all the work—but there were other times when there were genuinely strengths used from almost every member. “Measure your key problems” via input, says Hoffman. It’s a lot easier to solve your problem with more information than less.

Charles Huang of Guitar Hero remembered the early days when the feedback was pouring in. “This sucks!” and other negative, non-useful information was rampant. However, he’d sit down with his brother and pore over every single piece of feedback. He found many of his customers were smart and happy to break down what their complaints were and their ideas for making it better.

Dig through the noise, and you’ll likely find some very actionable data. In the end, this allowed Huang to gather the best feedback, deliver it to the manufacturer, and the customers solved the problems for them!

Jay Granger from Due invoicing found that after calling every one of his customers in the beginning that some of them were not very happy. "Correcting those problems and putting an end to the problems is key to growing your business."

From Words to Actions

“The only people who matter are your customers,” says Scott Case of Startup America. Obviously, right? However, that information often gets lost. You end up wanting to appease your critics, bloggers, journalists, and audience members at speaking engagements. However, your customers are the ones paying your bills. Their feedback is what really matters. “You might have to talk to 100 customers before you find the one,” says Case. However, with every person you talk to, you’re getting better at sharing your story.

There’s no such thing as a wasted business conversation. You get feedback that leads to adjustments, says Case.

It’s perfectly fine for feedback to push you to run hard in one direction, as long as you’re testing and re-assessing along the way. However, sometimes you’ll need to stop and pivot. Your feedback will tell you when. Let it dictate your pace and direction, and grow a thick skin to shrug off feedback that isn’t relevant.




Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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