Startup Founders: Feedback Is Important. Use It Wisely
One of the many perks of living in a startup nation is that everyone here has a startup.
Usually, when someone hears what I do, a common response is “I have an idea for a startup that you just have to hear” or “my brother is the founder of this startup, and you must meet with him.”
In most cases, I prefer to avoid providing feedback to every person that asks me what’s my opinion of this or that startup idea. There are many reasons for that. The main reason is that most people don’t want to hear real feedback on their idea, business strategy or presentations. They look for ratification or approval, not genuine feedback.
"I know, that in the startup nation we’re are very informal and casual, but casual feedback on a business I haven’t entirely gone through is counterproductive for all parties related. "
A couple of years ago, a construction guy came to my apartment to fix a wall. After he saw my home office, we started talking, and he described a IaaS startup that he invested in and owned by his son. It didn’t matter that I say that I cannot give any advice before looking at the data, business plan or any other business document – he insisted. It didn’t even matter that I say that I’m not a super-expert in the IaaS area and I need to research it a bit, he was steadfast about receiving some feedback.
In the case above, I obviously could not provide any genuine feedback, but this is a ubiquitous interaction when a founder or an angel investor ask for a serious feedback in a hallway conversation rather than in a proper business process. I know, that in the startup nation we’re are very informal and casual, but casual feedback on a business I haven’t entirely gone through is counterproductive for all parties related.
In another occasion, a husband of my wife’s friend asked for my opinion of a presentation he created to raise funds from VCs. I didn’t want to do it from all the reasons mentioned above, but my wife said it would be a nice thing to do and he might have a great idea that I wouldn’t know until I read the presentation.
The presentation was not excellent. I felt obligated to let him know very gently and nicely over a cup of coffee in his kitchen that the presentation could use some improvements and I even described a few of them. He declined my suggestions and got pretty upset “how I dared to speak that way about his business.” Never mind that I invested my own time in going through the materials, I did not receive a penny in compensation (nor I requested any), and I provided some actionable bullet points. He blew me off and later did not receive the funding he was hoping to get.
"Don’t allow the feedback to harm your confidence, business progress or innovation spirit. Use it. Embrace it. Learn from it."
And I get it. Not everyone is born business or finance savvy. Some are brilliant developers, some are outstanding marketers, and some are excellent speakers. However, a startup like every other business is at first a business aiming to generate revenues. The end goal is not to develop a technology, a product or a service – but to generate revenues and profits for the company and its shareholders. It’s okay not to know everything and highly recommended to consult with a professional before presenting or sharing a document that you created.
However, ask for genuine feedback. Approach objective external professionals that get paid for providing feedback and pay them to tell you what they think about the presentation, business idea or marketing strategy. Be ready to receive feedback that is not always nice to hear and does not always ratify your initial ideas. Be ready to adjust and update your materials or strategy but keep your eyes on the end goal. Don’t allow the feedback to harm your confidence, business progress or innovation spirit. Use it. Embrace it. Learn from it.
This blog post was written by Lior Ronen, Founder and CEO of Finro. The information provided in this webpage is for informational purposes only. Neither Finro Limited ("Finro") nor any of its affiliates makes any representation or warranty or guarantee as to the completeness, accuracy, timeliness or suitability of any information contained within any part of this webpage not that they are free from error.