How criticism keeps creators from launching and how feedback can help you get off the ground!
As creators we often seek perfection in our creations before showing them to anyone.
We, creators, probably do this because the perceived “image” of our product is directly attached to our own ego. Our creations are reflections of ourselves, and anything less than perfect would mean we ourselves are flawed, and we can’t allow anyone to see that we are flawed, right?
To understand why that is, we have to go back to school!
In school, we often went through a process called, “constructive criticism.” I think this is actually a very destructive process, despite what the name would have you believe.
I remember going through this process with a formal essay at university. (I should mention I’m much better at casual/creative writing than formal writing.)
But this time, I thought I did really well! I spent more time on it and got it proofread by a friend. My arguments were clear and concise and backed by studies and proof. However, after we did the whole peer to peer review thing, I got mine back absolutely covered in red ink (the worst kind).
Basically my argument was torn apart by someone way more educated than me on the subject and I had to go right back to the drawing board and form a new argument…
Here’s the thing about criticism, it only points out what you did wrong, not what you could do better, and certainly not what you got right.
So when I got the essay back, I was just destroyed, all the effort for no reward. It’s disheartening. It left me at square one feeling like I had accomplished nothing and was unmotivated to do a better job and improve.
When someone tears you down, even if it wasn’t intentional, that feeling that you failed, or that you haven’t accomplished anything doesn’t go away no matter how old or experienced you are.
I think many creators fail to launch because we’re afraid to receive that negative criticism (whether we realize it or not), and rather than go through the pain of having our work attacked by the unworthy, we try to make a “perfect” product that no one can fault and hide it behind a coming soon page.
So if you’re currently in that space, hiding your product behind a “coming soon” page and waiting for it to be perfect, here are three things to think about before you make the decision to keep it there for another month.
It’s not possible to create a perfect product.
I think we all inherently know this, but it won’t stop us from trying!
Technology, information, and time move too quickly to nail down a product that will always be useful to everyone. Products today require constant improvement and maintenance.
There will always be a new feature or UX improvement to add before it’s perfect. Eventually, you’ll just have to let go and trust that your product in its current form will be able to help someone and deliver on the promise you made to help your customers.
Today’s products are a constant “work in progress” because we’re always moving the needle forward and implementing new tools to meet the demands of an evolving market.
Would you consider YouTube, Google, Facebook, WordPress, Groundhogg “perfect?” Even today the products are being improved on a daily basis to satisfy the needs of an evolving market, and that’s what we as creators must always do.
There’s not enough time.
When creators get an idea for a new product it’s because we have an issue now that needs to be solved.
What happens if you spend a year creating a product to solve that issue, will the issue still be there, will someone else have solved the issue?
It breaks my heart everytime I see someone miss out on an opportunity because they took too long to share their work.
You can handle the criticism about the shortcomings of your creation, but it’ll be much more difficult handling the fact that you never got to sell it to anyone in the first place.
You’ll always have critics.
Elbert Hubbard said, “To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing.”
Those who failed to create will always be envious of those who were brave enough to do so, and that energy manifests itself in bad reviews, angry support tickets, and yelling on the phone.
What most creators don’t realize is that the unhappy voices are always the loudest. It’s so easy to focus on those few loud voices and get demoralized because one or two people decided to ruin your day.
When that happens, and it will happen, you’ll just have to remind yourself that those unhappy voices are actually silently outweighed by the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of happy satisfied customers you are helping to solve their problems.
You can’t help everyone, especially the ones who don’t want to be helped, so save yourself the trouble and focus on helping the ones who want it.
So even if your product is mediocre in your eyes, will it help someone fix a problem? If you answer yes, then it’s time to launch.
You will receive negative feedback from unhappy people, but that’s business, and I can almost guarantee that their voices will eventually be outweighed by the thousands of your future satisfied customers.
We can be proactive about criticism…
A lot of creators don’t know that we can change the dynamic of the “constructive criticism” process to empower us rather than demoralize us.
I mentioned earlier that constructive criticism is destructive by nature because it fails to…
- Provide insight on what was done correctly
- Show what could have been improved
- Acknowledge the effort already made
We need these things as creators to know we’re on the right track. If we only hear what we did wrong, then we can’t get the information we need to move forward in a positive direction.
So how do we get that information?
Collect feedback, not criticism!
Feedback has a totally different connotation than criticism. It’s like night and day.
Feedback allows for the opportunity to hear about what you got right, and what can be improved without coming down on you like a hammer and obliterating your feelings and self-esteem.
So, how do you collect feedback and not criticism?
Criticism will come at you without asking for it, such is the nature of it, you can’t stop it. But what you CAN do is ask your customers for “constructive feedback” which will outweigh the negative criticism you receive.
When you launch a new product, ask every single customer the following three questions after they’ve been using the product for at least a week.
- What did we get right?
- What could be improved?
- How can we improve it?
The framing of these questions is so much different than “constructive criticism,” and rather than make you feel like you accomplished nothing, you can see how your product is being received in a positive frame of mind.
When I first released Groundhogg, it was nowhere near where it was today. It was buggy, it was ugly, there was a lot that needed to be improved. But it got the job done for a lot of people, and that allowed us to improve over time and eventually create a kick-ass plugin that helps 1000 businesses.
So the moral of the story here is, don’t wait for perfection, don’t be afraid of criticism. If your product can help somebody right now, you have a duty and a responsibility to help them with your solution!
Are you sitting on an un-launched project? Tell us about it in the comments and include a link to where we can go to learn more about it, and then launch it!