When you’re a small business owner, and especially a solopreneur, getting feedback from outside your business can be helpful. It can indicate the feasibility of a project, make sure you’re language resonates, and ensure that a design lands with the right audience.
But, like most entrepreneurial skills, there is a bit of an art to it.
Historically, if you owned a small business, your opportunities for feedback were pretty limited. You’d ask clients and lean on a small trusted circle of colleagues. If you were fortunate, you had a good mentor. Of course, your mom had an opinion.
Fast forward to today, and with the help of social media, there is no shortage of available feedback on just about any part of your business- logo, website, offers, landing pages, etc. As a result, more and more entrepreneurs are seeking regular feedback as they build and grow their small business.
When (and When Not) to Get Feedback on Your Small Business
The readily available feedback can feel reassuring, give you a boost of confidence, and eliminate some of the isolation we feel as solopreneurs. It has an upside but is also a bit of a double-edged sword.
Getting feedback is a great idea when you’re looking to validate an idea, service, or promotion.
One reason this is so beneficial is that as entrepreneurs, it can be challenging to see the forest through the trees. You may have been looking at something for so long, that you’re missing important details or your emotional attachment to an idea can mitigate your skills of discernment.
Also, getting feedback is a great way to minimize the “knowledge bias” that may cloud your judgment. “Knowledge bias” means that once you know something, it's nearly impossible to appreciate what it was like before you knew that. If, for example, you are helping people to eat healthily and you've been eating healthy for years, it's challenging to put yourself back in the headspace you had when you first started that journey.
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Asking for feedback when you may be experiencing “knowledge bias” is an excellent opportunity to ask your ideal client, people who are looking to eat healthy in this example, to get their opinion and perspective on a service you’re offering. That can ensure that it solves the right problem, the promotional copy is compelling, and you're addressing the right pain points.
Skip the Feedback
While getting feedback to validate an idea or service can be helpful, other times getting feedback can set you back as a small business owner.
You don’t want to ask for feedback when you feel like YOU need validation. On the surface, the feedback request can look similar; but, it’s an important distinction to make.
One of the best things you can do as an entrepreneur is to strengthen that muscle that helps you assess available information, listen to your intuition, and push forward without a guarantee. That’s the skill that will have you, and your small business, going the distance. It’s in hearing and trusting your instincts that you begin building an authentic business.
Before you ask for feedback, ask yourself:
"Am I validating an idea, concept, or service; or is it that I need validation at this moment?"
If you’re seeking personal validation, be mindful about why it is that you genuinely need the validation. Then look within yourself to find how you can give yourself what you need to move forward (maybe confidence or compassion), without being validated externally?
How to Make The Most of Feedback Opportunities
If you’re going to seek out feedback, get the most of that opportunity by considering two things- the right people and the right questions.
Asking the Right People
Before we chat about the right people to ask, there is one thing that I firmly believe:
At the end of the day, the most important opinions about your business belong to you and that of your clients or ideal client.
I say that as somebody who makes a living offering opinions about marketing, but even my clients know that my opinion means nothing unless it has been through their own “filter.”
If you’re seeking feedback on your business, there are two great groups of people to seek out:
Your ideal client. These are people who are facing the same problem that your business solves. This group gives excellent insight into the right problems to solve, the solutions to offer, the correct language to use, and the places to be with your message.
If you're seeking feedback from a really broad group, a large Facebook group for example, be very specific from whom you’d like feedback. For instance, if you're seeking the input of females 25 to 35 who struggle with sugar addiction and exhaustion, say so. Asking for feedback in a group that features people 18 to 80, you are going to get lots of feedback. Some will be relevant, but a lot of isn’t pertinent to your business. Getting meaningless feedback is time-consuming and may have you going in the wrong direction.
Those that have “been there, done that.” If somebody is a few steps ahead of you in your business- they’ve already launched a product, built a brand, who got the attention of same ideal clients- they can be a great resource. From them, you’ll get the trial and tribulations that might offer you a more efficient approach to getting similar results.
Asking the Right Questions
The two most important things to consider when crafting useful questions are to be specific and have a goal in mind.
I often see entrepreneurs asking really broad questions on social media. For example, when choosing between logo options, they post a few options for a broad group and ask: “which one do you like?” Which logo the group likes isn’t the point.
Set clear goals for asking for feedback and ask specific questions that speak to that goal.
With the logo example above, your goal might be to create a logo that communicates your company values. Instead of asking which people “like,” better questions might be:
“What are three adjectives that you think of when you see this logo?” or
“My goal is to communicate X, Y, and Z. Which logo best communicates that?”
By asking more pointed questions, you’ll get the specific feedback that empowers you to move forward.
Most importantly, no matter where you get feedback, who you get it from, or what the input is, the most important thing is that you put it through your own “filter” to decide what is right for you and your business. Building a business that’s authentic to you means that you’re proud of what you put into the world.
Tell me, on what kind of things in your business do you seek out feedback?
What’s the best feedback that propelled you and your business forward?