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How to Pivot When Your Startup Gets Negative Feedback

Posted by Celene Robert

March 23, 2021

When you get an idea for a startup, you might eagerly share it with others in hopes that they will love it as much as you do. But sometimes you may get negative feedback, which is often only a sign that you have more work to do. This guide outlines how to best respond to negative feedback, including recommendations as to whether you should scrap your business idea altogether, tweak it or gather additional opinions. The good news is that if your business idea already meets the following three criteria, it is likely a viable one.

Solving a Valid Problem

Before soliciting feedback about your startup, develop a clear understanding of your business idea, its value in today’s market and its long-term potential. If your idea offers a solution to a valid problem, then you are on the right track. Ideally, your idea or product will serve consumers today amid the pandemic and will still be valuable five years from now. 

Meeting Current Demand

You are going in the right direction if your business idea is viable amid current market dynamics. But it’s also possible that due to the economic downturn, a business idea that worked a year ago will be less successful today, or vice versa. Therefore, it is essential to get expert opinions that validate your business idea.

Consider fine-tuning your business proposal by understanding where consumers’ needs are heading and what difficulties they might face, such as high prices, the need for home delivery or privacy concerns. Empathize with potential customers, and home in on how your idea can improve their lives.


Providing Unique Value

Successful entrepreneurs start their journey by determining the unique value that they can bring to consumers. Solving an existing problem with a new approach or in a more efficient way sets you apart from competitors. Alternatively, you can switch up your business strategy to offer customers added value, such as providing fast delivery or using only renewable materials.

With thousands of new businesses launched globally each year, the chances of coming up with a unique business idea admittedly grow a bit slimmer. However, even offering a product or service similar to an existing one but that offers a unique experience can give you an edge over competitors. Keep in mind that f those competitors can easily catch up with your product, you must allocate resources to securing legal protection for your intellectual property.

Ways to Find the Right Feedback

Start with pitching a trusted group of advisors to discuss key learnings from the field and to get input. Once you receive feedback, build a demo, develop accordingly and pitch it again. And in the event of negative feedback, the following four strategies can help you pivot wisely.

1.Leverage Expert Advice

One of the essential factors to consider when pitching ideas is finding the right people. Identify experts in the relevant industry, inform them about your product and harness their expertise to find the best solution for your industry. Invest time into learning about your target market by soliciting feedback from these advisors. Their input can be used to create lightweight but polished demos and to continually improve the process of gathering useful domain expertise.

2.Listen Carefully

When someone rejects or criticizes your work, aim to listen closely and really understand what they are trying to communicate. Keep in mind that just because you have spent hundreds of hours working on your product, that doesn't ensure people will like it. Instead of dwelling on the fact that someone doesn't like your product or pitch, use their feedback to improve your idea.

3.Accept and Ask for Time

Most startups do contend with negative feedback, criticism and even rejection in their early stages. If you can learn to accept and apply this feedback to your advantage, it can help your startup grow. And in cases where someone rejects your product or service based on an aspect that you can change, it is safe to admit this and request time to improve it.

4.Analyze Feedback

Start by considering that feedback is only as relevant as the person giving it, so when it is unfavorable, ask yourself whether the facts support their input. Remember that the value of a critique is it enables you to learn from different perspectives, which gives you the potential to acknowledge problems and solve them. When receiving criticism about your startup, take the opportunity to ask the person who gave it for more information. Continually adjusting your product or idea based on such feedback from the start of your journey will help you adapt to ever-changing market needs.



Celene Robert
Celene Robert

Celene heads up the marketing at Escalon. Passionate about helping companies grow their business, she spends her days finding new ways to bring essential business services to startups, SMBs, and growth-minded companies. Based in the PNW, she’s the proud owner of 8 pairs of Birkenstocks and a sassy, cuddly cat.

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