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The Best Feedback for a First-time Entrepreneur, by @RajSetty

Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2012-12-05

Founder Feedback gives you insight from the startup trenches.

In a post from his blog, Rajesh Setty, Serial Entrepreneur, author, and Founder Institute Mentor, advises first-time founders on how to recognize the most valuable feedback. Instead of hearing why your idea won't work or that you need to raise a seed round, Rajesh says feedback that takes you to the next level of your business is key.

Below, the article The Best Feedback for a First-time Entrepreneur has been republished.

"First-time entrepreneurs are at a perennial disadvantage. If you are one, you know what the feeling is. There is no guarantee to you or to anyone around you that your project WILL take off. It’s the height of uncertainty. Since they are not “proven” yet, not many people around them want to actively support them because if the startup goes down (according to the stats, most likely it will) they don’t want to be associated with one more failure.

You need the most help and the circumstances are such that you will get the least help. This will, unfortunately, keep the statistics intact – that 9 out of 10 startups fail.

Feedback that won’t help much..
When you do get an opportunity to get some feedback, you are faced with feedback that starts with something like this:

“Let me tell you why this won’t work…”
“You have not thought through the entire business model yet…”
“How are you planning to address __________, _________ and __________?”
“I have seen others try this before and they have not succeeded. So…”
“Your _____________ is incomplete…”
“Have you done such a project before?”
There are many more…

All you need to do is…
There is another kind of feedback that seems super insightful but not helpful. It is when they say that all you need to do is this ONE thing and you can break free from the logjam. And what’s that ONE thing:

For starters:
Hire that rockstar co-founder
Get that seed funding
Win that first customer

Actually ANYTHING that is not in your current reach. Anything that can be termed as another project all by itself.

This kind of feedback may be insightful but not practically useful based on where you are.


One strike and you are out
Most people are looking for just ONE reason why your project won’t work and that’s good enough to conclude that this project is a dead duck.

They want your “thinking” and “execution up to the point” to be complete. Since you are a first-time entrepreneur, it would be close to impossible for you to achieve that.
Result: Stalemate

The Feedback that Matters Most
The real feedback that matters is when someone guides you to reach the very NEXT step in your startup evolution with resources you already have.

Let me explain:
It is common for you as a first-time entrepreneur to get into a “stalled” state every now and then. It’s like having a dead battery in your car. You know that the battery works and it requires someone to jump start it. The feedback that I am referring to is analogous to jump-starting that battery.

Your next step need not be your mega milestone. It can be something that will show you that there is life in your startup – something that will give you a feeling that you are making progress.
Everyone of you can go to that next step with the resources you already have. Because you are thinking about big milestones, you might forget to focus on the little steps that collectively and ultimately take you towards that big milestone.


The Additional Bonus
You will notice that the moment you start thinking like this, you have an additional benefit (or bonus) – you will seek feedback to improve and increase your capacity to take that next SMALL step instead of trying to climb mount Everest. You are less of a burden to people who you have reached out for help and hence they may be more open to help.

Even those that are not open to help you can see that you are making progress and are not simply repeating “how you are going to change the world” forever.

This approach has helped many of my clients at Foresight Plus. Hopefully it will help you too."


To hear more from Rajesh, check out his blog or follow him on Twitter @rajsetty.

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