How to handle conflicting feedback on your idea

A.T. Gimbel sheds light on an age old question: "What do I do when I have conflicting feedback about my idea?"

A.T. Gimbel
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September 21, 2020

What do you do when multiple feedback sources don’t align?

So you have a great new business idea, have started some customer discovery, and are now refining your approach to tackle this problem. You start to get feedback along the way from friends, customers, advisors, mentors, investors, etc. Unfortunately the feedback you get is all over the place and nobody seems to “get it.”  How do you handle this conflicting advice and points of view?

Listen, learn and synthesize

I love asking for and listening to feedback from folks of different backgrounds and perspectives. It helps you learn new ways of looking at problems you may not have seen and exposes holes in your way of thinking. I don’t want everyone to tell me I have a great idea. But often the feedback will conflict and that is okay. Part of your job as an entrepreneur is to listen and learn from all the feedback, yet take the relevant advice and apply it to your specific idea. You know your idea and vision the best; so apply some feedback, tweak some, and ignore other pieces of feedback.

Not all feedback is the same

While you are listening to the feedback, take note of who is giving the feedback and why they are knowledgeable in that space. Have they personally experienced it? Have they observed others experiencing it? Have they read about it? Or are they just offering their opinion? Obviously, give more weight to feedback coming from those who have experienced the situation multiple times. Lastly, even great investors will tell you there are times when they are incorrect in their views on if an idea was good/bad. I encourage entrepreneurs to care less about whether an investor thinks it is a good idea or not, but rather what do paying customers think. Are they willing to pay for the product? To upsell? To refer to a peer? Opinions from passionate, paying customers about solving their must-have problems matter way more than Sally or Bob’s views.

Test hypotheses

Now that you have received feedback, I love putting that feedback to the test. How can you test your new approach or strategy in the real world? Does the new value proposition resonate with customers? Can your revised sales process improve CAC? Find ways to test your new approaches at a small scale to validate your hypotheses before moving on to the next step. Remember, the power of a startup is to move quickly and iterate. Your first idea does not have to be right!

Everyone has an opinion and will gladly share it with you … but make sure you internalize and act on the right feedback to grow your business, leveraging the most important lens of paying customers.

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