Growing a small business is hard and typically involves putting our product out there and seeing what happens. Older people would have called it “running it up the flagpole to see who salutes.”
Regardless of what we want to call it, we need feedback from others in order to get any better.
Someone, a client, an associate, or maybe a friend, needs to tell us what they think about what we’re doing and suggest some ways that we can improve our offering.
But good feedback is hard to come by.
All too often, those people simply tell us what they think we want to hear: they tell us that it’s great; we’re doing a wonderful job; or they love our product. They go on and on about how good we’re doing and that we shouldn’t worry about changing anything.
While it’s likely that they mean well, the fact is they’re really not helping us. We’re looking for constructive criticism and they’re trying to spare our feelings. They may be well-intentioned but their “advice” quite often turns out to be useless.
If we really want to get valuable feedback, we’re going to have to be more direct. Instead of being general in our request (What did you think?), we’re liable to get more information if we get down in the weeds.
Instead of asking very general questions of everyone, we’re likely to get better feedback if we ask specific questions of more people.
Exactly what part was the most helpful?
Was there anything that was difficult to understand?
What’s one thing that you wish I would have included?
Is there something I’m doing that’s pointless and should be eliminated?
If we dig down to a base level, and ask more specific questions (that can be easily answered), we’re likely to get better engagement with and more effective responses to our questions.
Ask and ye shall receive… but remember that it’s all in the way ye ask.
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