Living life as a creative entrepreneur is, in many ways a fulfilling experience, but it also results in a certain level of emotional exposure. Inevitably, someone will criticize your work or the way you are running your business. This can feel intimidating, even overwhelming. In the worst of times criticism and negativity can stop an entrepreneur from taking the chances necessary to grow.
To avoid feelings of defeat, entrepreneurs must come to terms with some level of vulnerability, and that requires courage, strength and confidence. Those shaky feelings may always arise when someone makes a snarky remark about your products or questions your pricing, but you can remain in control. In fact, there is an upside to vulnerability. Dr. Brené Brown says it well:
"Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity."
Each time you embrace your vulnerability and put yourself out there, as you do at a Farmer’s Market for instance, you are broadening the field of opportunity. Snarkiness aside, you never know what opening for the advancement of your business, or a killer sale, may arise.
By changing your perspective, you can stop negative people from getting under your skin. Why waste a perfectly sunny day on preoccupation about your product’s value and questioning your own creativity and worthiness? Knock ‘em dead with confidence and let the skeptics go home empty-handed.
Stop wondering what people think. Just ask.
No one is a mind reader. You might interpret someone’s facial expressions as being negative when, in reality, they are caught in a moment of utter admiration of your product’s unique scent or visual beauty. Don’t let those vulnerable feelings stop you from asking a visitor how they like your exclusive blend or trendy presentation. There will be times when the response is not overwhelmingly favorable, but just dismiss it as a matter of conflicting tastes.
Don’t take on the stress of someone else’s bad day.
We’re all human, and we all have bad days—some more than others. We have no way of knowing what is going on in someone else’s life and how it’s affecting them. Someone who brushes your prized soap aside may be having an emotional response to something else entirely. While they certainly shouldn’t take their problems out on others, some people find an act of aggression healing in some way--a method of escaping from their real problems. This doesn’t excuse rude behavior but knowing that, in all likelihood, it’s not about you will help lessen the blow.
I am not in support of the “customer is always right” theory. No, sometimes they are dead-wrong. While it’s important to pay attention to what your market wants, you are the expert. If someone complains about pricing, tell them why it’s a bit higher than some other brands. Never put down the competition, focus only on your brand and culture. Perhaps you donate a portion of proceeds to an organization that champions efforts to provide clean water to villages in developing countries. Or, you use only organic ingredients. Whatever your reason, talk about it in a kind, confident, matter-of-fact manner to educate your prospective customer. They’ll probably walk away with an armload of product.
Don’t stuff overwhelming feelings.
In a frenzied haste, you set up your booth just in time—for a downpour. To add insult to injury, the first person who walked by your booth wrinkled their nose at your display. Feeling stressed out? Of course, you are!
Don’t ignore stress. It only takes a moment or two to take a deep breath and shake off the tension in your shoulders. Visualize a pleasing outcome to the day and find your happy place. This release will bring you back to a confident, relaxed state so you can enjoy the event.
Stop striving to please everyone.
The world would be a very dull place if we all had the same opinions, likes, and dislikes. The more effort you put into trying to please everyone, the more disappointment and criticism you’ll face. The more you hold yourself to an impossible ideal, the more easily you will give up.
Focus instead on creating a unique brand that captures the essence of how you think and feel. Some people will love it, some may hate it. That is the sign of a successful line.
Laugh about it.
Laughter is an antidote to disappointment and stress. According to studies at Mayo Clinic, laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles and increases the production of endorphins. If you don’t see anything funny about the situation, think of something that is funny and get a good giggle out of it.
Separate yourself from your product.
Your creations may feel like a part of you because in some way they are. Still, they do not represent every part of you. You are a complex individual whose depth and understanding of the world goes far beyond a bar of soap. This is just one expression of who you are, so when someone has nothing but criticism to offer, don’t take it personally. I’ll bet they talk that way to everyone!