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The Art of Feedback

Written By: Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell) in Ken's Blog | March 31, 2010

Ken’s Blog

Never hesitate to ask for feedback. You only have two eyes and you live inside your own skin.  So the opinion of others is invaluable.

The art of receiving feedback is based on two principles. Well, there are many more, but two occur to me now…

1) Never be offended by tactless feedback. It sometimes contains the most useful information. I learned this when inventing my first board game.

I asked a colleague at the hospital to test it. Not a particularly likable chap, he was a “smarter than thou” who never quite figured that out. But he gave great, if nasty, feedback. He slammed it with vigor and without mercy. That feedback helped me to improve, and ultimately license, that first game of ours. And so my first non-medical career was born. Take-away lesson?…

Never be offended by the blunt. If you look through the attitude and leave the hurt aside, you’ll often find some great points. (If it goes over the top and is merely offensive, ignore it.) And that brings me, in a roundabout way, to the second principle…

2) You choose what is valuable and what is not. Only you know all the goals, the reasons you made the decisions you did. Allow feedback to challenge those decisions.

Yes! Yes! Yes! That’s the whole point.

And do listen to feedback that takes on a “wisdom of the crowds” level – fix the spots that are hit over and over again. The odds are “the crowd” is right.

But don’t feel obliged to obey every single comment. You are the one who has to pick and choose from a wonderful buffet of feedback that has been left for you. Eliminate questions of individual taste/sensitivity.

For example…

When was in the first draft stage, someone complained about the image of a turtle with a rocket on its back. When someone worries about turtles with rockets on their back, you think for a second, decide if most people will realize that this is all in fun, and then you move on.

Better still, you think a step further and you add a Disclaimer…

“No turtles were harmed in the making of this Web site. For more information on the SBI! tortoise, click here.”

And then provide a link to…

The majority will get a chuckle from the disclaimer. Those who were concerned that we were firing turtles into outer space are reassured.

Ditto for those who don’t think you “sell hard enough” on your sales page or those who think you sell too hard. If you get an equal number of both, you’re probably about right. Just come out with your best effort.  You can improve with ab-split testing anytime.

If you get caught up in a debate over marketing hyperbole, you never emerge from it. Every single site on the Web presents their product in the very best light possible. (I have yet to read about Apple’s red-hot laptop batteries on their site.)

But when it comes to taste, just remember that everyone is different and you can’t please everyone. Reassess that you are pleasing the thumbnail image of your typical pre-customer.

Bottom line? Have a thick tortoise shell and a sharp brain when evaluating feedback. Don’t take anything personally. Just listen well and use the best.

All the best,

Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)
Ken Evoy is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of SiteSell Inc. He is the creator of SBI!, SiteSell's comprehensive Web business-building system. Ken is also a successful inventor, author, and emergency physician. He feels strongly that solopreneurs can be empowered by leveraging their income building potential online.
Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)

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