Uncertainty is one of the biggest challenges to success for all entrepreneurs.  Many of the entrepreneurs I know are struggling to figure out their business.  They may have a great idea, but don’t know how to take it to market.  They may have a great market but are struggling to find a team that can meet the need.  Uncertainty prevails and many struggle with doubt.  One of the biggest sources of doubt?  Naysayers.  People who have an opinion that differs from your vision.  I love what Steve Jobs had to say about this.  He’s quoted as saying “Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your inner voice.”.  

Practice Selective Hearing

One of the important skills every entrepreneur needs to have is “selective hearing”.  Now if you have followed my blog for a while, you know that I teach the importance of good listening skills.  So what in the world am I talking about?

What I am professing is that many entrepreneurs are surrounded by people who are NOT entrepreneurs.  And so, the idea of starting a business is completely foreign to them.  They don’t understand why you don’t want to just pull a paycheck.  They cannot fathom why you would want to put your personal savings at risk in order to achieve your dream.

When you find yourself in this situation, and someone is telling you how crazy you are, practice selective listening.  Understand that they do share your passion, drive or vision.  Do not let their negative voices take root.  You need Teflon-lined ears.   Just let it roll on through.

I remember several of my best friends that gave me “encouragement” when I started my business.  Here are a few gems:

  • “Business coaching?  Aren’t there a lot of them?”
  • “What are you selling?  How can you make money without a ‘product’?”
  • “Who pays you if you don’t have any clients?”

I love a quote that someone shared with me over a year ago. I included it in a blog about finding your calling then, and it’s still apropos today.  “Don’t ask for directions from someone who hasn’t been where you are going”.  It was good advice then, and it remains good advice today.

Seek Like-Minded Mentors (but not clones)

Every business owner needs mentors.  I prefer the term “coach”.  I think the only difference is “mentors” are typically friends or “free”, while coaches charge for what we do.

Every business owner should seek out coaches that can help them build their business.  Good coaches are like-minded, growth-oriented individuals with an entrepreneur mindset.  A good coach has a methodology that they follow.  But also, I believe, the best coaches bring a toolbag full of material to apply unique solutions for each problem.  Like I always say, if your only tool is a hammer, every problem you see is a nail.  Therefore I bring a variety of tools for my clients.  I’m well versed in the Entrepreneur Operating System, the Business Model Canvas, Agile Methodologies, as well as our proven FocalPoint material.

Listen to Logic

Selected listening and like-minded mentors are great.  But there is something important about listening to logic.  Just like the Emporer with new clothes, some people will only tell what they want to hear.  I have seen entrepreneurs who have an idea that has many flaws.  But they only surround themselves with “yes men”, who will tell them exactly what they want to hear.

So, yes, surround yourself with likeminded people who will give you encouragement.  Be selective in listening to people who don’t understand your vision and where you want to go.

But, on the other hand, if someone has a logical concern about your invention, concept or business model, you should listen to it.

One entrepreneur I knew had an idea for improving how data was handled and passed from organization to organization.  His concept seemed valid on the surface (and was).  But when we shared it with people in the industry, a number of glaring concerns were raised.  Instead of retooling and reinventing, this business owner doubled down.  He surrounded himself with some people in the industry who did believe in his concept and essentially ostracized himself from anyone who disagreed.

A logical concern is just that, “logical”.  And if someone presents a logical concern you should be at least open to understanding it.  By addressing that concern you may make your solution a stronger product in the end.

Conclusion – Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your inner voice.

Entrepreneurs take heart.  Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your inner voice. There are naysayers who will try to discourage you throughout your journey.  There are others, with good intentions, who will discourage you along your path.

Practice selective listening and don’t let negative thoughts take hold in your head.  Seek out mentors and coaches who are like-minded, and will give you valid advice.  Good coaches provide you with a model to help you develop and build your business.  And they give you advice when necessary that will help keep you on course.

But don’t be afraid to listen to logic.  A logical counter-argument to your business idea might be just what you need to catch an issue early on and reposition your solution for success down the road.

I love working with entrepreneurs to help them build their business and grow their business so they can achieve their goals.  Remember, don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your inner voice. Let me be that coach for you.  Email me today @ jjennings@focalpointcoaching.com.