When starting a company, most people handicap themselves on day one. They show their idea to people they know will be amenable and will rally behind them, people that will instantly become evangelists and spread the good word. While for some it becomes about ego, for others it becomes about making that golden idea even better for its instant fans. The cycle of goodness just keeps spinning and sometimes that entrepreneur gets lucky and makes it big time.
Doesn’t this all sound like the right way to go? Rally the troops, surround yourself with positivity, right? Wrong.
On day one, your idea should go straight to someone that you know will hate it. Not necessarily an enemy or someone who hates everything, but someone or someones who you know is a critical thinker. Looking for someone who won’t cheerlead, but someone who you are sure will have everything negative, even mean to say, will make your idea a thousand times better.
Doing so before even entering the beta phase will give your cheerleader evangelists even more happy. Going to market with an idea vetted by the haters first will also help you avoid surprises, or the painful sting of someone crapping on your idea when it’s too late to make certain changes.
Elon Musk and Dharmesh Shah agree
Globally famous inventor Elon Musk said in a recent interview, “Always seek negative feedback, even though it can be mentally painful,” adding that even if you want to ignore negative or constructive feedback, you should pay attention. “They won’t always be right, but I find the single biggest error people make is to ignore constructive, negative feedback.”
Dharmesh Shah, Founder and CTO of HubSpot, agrees. “Seek out the most critical opinions of your plan that you can find,” Shah notes. “The natural tendency for a first-time entrepreneur is to fall in love with an idea and then look for friends and colleagues to support it. After all, who wants to have a fledgling idea crushed by naysayers? But these are exactly the types of folks you should be looking for.”
Shah adds, “Have them shred your plan and designs from top to bottom. If you find yourself agreeing with them and having doubts, then your plan (and possibly you) may not have the mettle to make it. But if you are able to defend it with conviction, repeatedly, then you probably have both the moxie to last through the long, tough grind you’re facing, as well as a plan that just might work.”
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