The Facts about Feedback

At one point in time, I decided that it would be a good idea to buy a business that had recently been put up for sale. And as I pondered whether the purchase was the right thing to do, I had all of these visions in my head of how I could grow the business and make it stronger. I imagined myself as the CEO, sitting in my office surrounded by countless orders from all of the people who wanted the goods my business purchased.

As it turns out, I was surrounded by countless orders as I took over the helm and began to run my new company, but it wasn’t exactly the “countless” I’d hoped for. In fact, I soon learned that the open-order report wasn’t exactly accurate. My first thought was whether fraud was involved. Had I been deceived?

While I’d like to say yes, simply because it would help me save face, the answer is actually no. There was no fraud or deception when it came to the orders that existed on the books. I’d simply seen what I wanted to see. Everything was right there in front of me, but I chose to look at all of the good, completely glossing over anything that was potentially bad.

Four months after purchasing that business, I made the gut-wrenching decision to close its doors. I already had more invested than I could realistically risk, so it was better to cut my losses before they got even bigger yet. I had to walk away, but I did walk away much smarter because I learned a very important lesson along the way.

Had I taken the time to discuss this new business venture with others before jumping right in, I would’ve likely gotten some feedback that probably would’ve changed my mind. I’d have been forced to take off my rose-colored glasses and see the big, red, flashing warning signs that were clearly there, the same ones I’d convinced myself to unplug and ignore. No, all I saw was the image of what I could create, completely oblivious to the work it would take to get there.

Asking for feedback, having a sounding board, is invaluable when it comes to making smart business decisions. That’s why a lot of huge companies have a board of directors. This makes it harder to overlook potential issues because you have more eyes than just your own.

Of course, if you’re a solopreneur or an entrepreneur who isn’t quite big enough to justify having a board, that doesn’t mean that you’re out in the rain without an umbrella. Run your ideas past others in your field, getting their input based on their past experiences. Reach out to your network, whether local or online, and see what they think. They may raise an issue that you hadn’t thought about or highlight a potential concern that wasn’t even on your radar.

Feedback from those around you can be completely invaluable, and listening to it can save you a lot of grief…both right now as well as long down the road. I know it would have saved me. But maybe it was my lesson to learn so that I could learn to help others. If that’s the case, then it’s all good.

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