February 16, 2023

How To Respond To Someone Trashing Your Business Idea

Explaining your business idea can be an excruciating experience for anyone, especially at a dinner party. So, what exactly do you do when your business proposal comes with unwarranted feedback? 

In a recent LinkedIn post, founder and CEO of The Stack World, Sharmaden Reid MBE, broke down the many steps entrepreneurs must take when faced with negative feedback about their business idea. 

“I had a female founder friend call me recently – they had been to an event, a dinner party, and they had to pitch, but some man has completely shut down their business idea,” Reid said. “These are my tips on what to do when this happens.” 

Firstly, Reid advises all entrepreneurs to remain calm. Your adrenaline and cortisol levels will automatically increase due to the many feelings you may feel in that moment, including rage, irritation, and outrage. Taking a second to breathe will do wonders in shifting the conversation to a more positive one.  

Step 1 – Gauge their level of expertise

It’s essential to understand whether the person giving you feedback knows and understands your industry. So instead of getting defensive immediately, find out whether they’ve worked in the industry you are breaking into. 

Step 2 – Understand their level of primary experience 

Politely ask, “Have you ever experienced this problem before or know anyone intimately who has?” This will help you to understand whether they have encountered a similar problem before that your product could help solve. Both steps will give you a deeper understanding of whether the person critiquing your idea has the credentials or direct experience in the field you’re looking to break into.                  

Step 3 – State your levels of expertise 

Being able to state your levels of expertise will help the person understand that you’re well-versed in this area. Be sure to mention the many projects you have worked on up until now that have led you to where you are now. Highlighting that your expertise helped you pursue your business will also help you remember the why behind your business idea. 

Step 4 – Use your data  

Reid advises founders to use their data! Data-gathering is essential to your entrepreneurial journey and will always come in handy. All the research you have done around your business will help you bring factual stats to critics that back up your expertise. 

Step 5 – Quote your community   

Following on from that research, presenting the information you’ve gathered from your target audience will further prove why your business product is needed. For example, quoting an insight from your community will show that you own and understand your audience well. It will also show that you’re designing a business model based on insights you’ve gathered from your audience.  

Step 6 – Cite your primary experience    

Finally, quoting your own primary experience is vital. For example, saying, “I also experienced this issue, and this is the exact product I wish I’d had in my first-person experience,” will further show that you have first-hand knowledge in this sector, which is why you decided to launch your business.  

Kumba Kpakima

Kumba Kpakima is a reporter at POCIT. A documentary about the knife crime epidemic in the UK got her a nomination for the UK's #30toWatch Young Journalists of the Year.