Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Criticism - Am I listening?

I've been on the path of being a professional knitter for nine years now. I started before I quit my last full time job. Over those years I've heard lots of advice and listened to even more criticism. In my interviews I ask the question "How do you deal with criticism?" The answers always revolve around getting criticism from customers. I've been fortunate I haven't experienced much of that. Most of what I've had has come from other knitters about how I'm choosing to run my business.

I can say now, that while I listened very carefully in the beginning, I have come to see that as a mistake on my part.

I now make some careful observations before I take their comments seriously. 

I consider:
  • who is giving me the feedback and why,
  • are they knowledgeable about my business,
  • is it applicable to things I can change, as an example how Ravelry and Patternfish work,
  • do they have an axe to grind,
  • are they looking at all of what I've done before they tell me what I've done wrong,
  • are they telling me paid work is being done incorrectly when the organization paying me set out the parameters of what was required,
  • are they my customer,
  • do they have accurate knowledge about my customer, 
  • do they understand the various niches of pattern buying customers; socks, shawls, baby, or garments,
  • do they have online, social media marketing, retail and event experience,
  • is their accurate view from another industry applicable to mine,
  • are they assuming I have unlimited resources in the areas of time and finances,
  • are they focused on low priority administrative details,
  • do they expect everything to happen instantaneously,
  • do they assume start ups work like Fortune 500 companies,
  • do they use the should word frequently,
  • are they hiding behind the phrase constructive criticism, constructive means things I have the ability to change, 
  • do they understand it's a process and a journey not a destination, 
  • as a non-entrepreneur do they have very unrealistic expectations regarding time to profitability. 

I have learned a lot along the way. The best advice I've gotten has been from industry insiders. Their advice stands out because it is never black and white. It's nuanced, detailed and always includes the advice to carefully do an analysis of what I'm doing from a number of different perspectives. 

I've also managed in the last two years to develop a much thicker skin, sometimes even well intended good advice from extremely smart people, just doesn't work for my goals.

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