Taking the entrepreneurial leap is exciting, and you'll undoubtedly want to share the good news of your new venture with the world.
When you do, you're bound to get a lot of feedback, and not all of it will be positive. Maybe your designer friend doesn't like the font of your new logo, or your aunt keeps insisting you'd be better off financially if you hired your cousin to be your CFO.
If you're not prepared for it, critical feedback can wear you down. To help you stay positive and motivated when faced with a noisy peanut gallery, here are some tactful responses that will convert well-meaning adversaries into enthusiastic advocates.
Criticism: "But How Will You Make Money?"
This is one of those questions that can easily read as a lack of support, but remember that others haven't had as much time to think through the business model of your new venture as you have.
Even if you don't have all the answers, reply by showing that you've thought about the possible options and are prepared to shift according to the market's demand.
Response: "We found several clients who have agreed to support the first version of the app with advertising, and we're exploring several subscription systems modeled after other successful apps for the second version."
Criticism: "I Didn't Realize You Knew So Much About _____"
A version of this question may come up, especially from industry outsiders, who aren't sure if you have the experience or background for the business you're about to jump into. While the intent is often to ensure you're prepared, it can come across as lack of support or faith in your mission, especially in early days.
Having a clear sense of purpose can help these types of questions roll off your back. Memorize a stat or two that proves your know your stuff and then share your excitement to continue learning and growing with the industry.
Response: "Well, when I heard that only 32 percent of B2B companies have a defined content marketing strategy, I started digging further into the field because I want to help more companies think strategically."
Criticism: "But You Already Have A Great Job/Degree in Something Else..."
From the outside, it's easy for someone to see the best attributes of your current job or trajectory and to see your change of pace as an unnecessary risk.
Follow the advice Dorie Clark gives in her book "Reinventing You," by helping people see the logical connections between your old path and your new one. Start with a statement that shows your appreciation for what you've already accomplished, and follow it with a creative application of those skills in your new role.
Response: "I learned so much about sales and customer service in my time at Acme Co., and those skills are going to be key for acquiring and keeping loyal customers for my artisanal salsa company."
Criticism: "What's Your Long Term Plan?"
This question can be frustrating, especially because you may not have a 5-year plan or know the perfect steps to get there yet.
And that's OK; even some of the most successful start-ups are a bit chaotic. You'll undoubtedly make mistakes when starting your first company, too. Clarify what your primary focus is now, express a willingness to learn as you go, and share the vision you're relentlessly pursuing.
Response: "Right now, we're really focusing on making the best product we can, and if we keep listening to our customers and making improvements like we have been, we're going to be the best dog-walking app out there!"