Look, dealing with criticism can be tough ... I know that firsthand.

Here's the thing: As an entrepreneur, you're probably working yourself to the bone. You know how it is -- 10-hour workdays become the norm, and you find yourself drinking 10 coffees a day just so you have the energy to keep going.

When you've got so much invested in your company, and you hear people saying things like, "Nah, it won't work," chances are, you'll get defensive. You'll think: They don't know what they're talking about.

Why? Well, if you even entertain the idea that they might be right, this means that all your hard work might amount to nothing. And that's a tough pill to swallow.

That said, it's important to learn how to accept criticism, and use it to improve your business. Jeff Bezos uses a "listen, ask, change" framework: He listens to the criticism he receives, asks whether the criticism is right, and changes his approach (if needed).

This framework is simple, but it's highly effective. It helps you be more open to criticism, and at the same time, evaluate the criticism before deciding if you want to act on it.

Jeff Bezos's early experience dealing with criticism

Back in 1995, when Amazon was still a bookstore, Bezos started experimenting with customer reviews. After some time, he received a letter from a book publisher telling him that Amazon had misunderstood the retail industry. The platform shouldn't display negative customer reviews, because it would result in fewer sales.

After thinking about the advice, Bezos felt that the publisher had misunderstood what Amazon was trying to do. The goal was not to make money through selling things, but to make money through helping people make purchase decisions. He decided not to pull the negative customer reviews, and that obviously turned out to be the right choice.

Don't be afraid to stand by your strategy

Like Bezos, I've received and dealt with my fair share of criticism. Here's my personal story: Back when I started focusing on Yelp reviews for my company, I got a ton of people telling me I was wasting my time.

I'm in the home services industry, and most of the entrepreneurs from this industry hate Yelp with a passion. They complain that some positive reviews don't get displayed on Yelp, that competitors write bad reviews to sabotage their business. You get the idea.

So, going into this, I was definitely cautious. But I still felt that Yelp was a good strategy, so instead of writing it off immediately, I spoke to even more entrepreneurs to figure out if there were people making a profit with Yelp.

Long story short, I ended up making Yelp a key part of my business's strategy after all. In just 10 months, I made an extra $1 million, directly attributable to Yelp. Imagine if I'd listened to the criticism and changed my strategy back then -- all that revenue would have gone down the drain!

Published on: Nov 2, 2018
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