When I first began this journey of entrepreneurship, I had a really hard time finding any outside feedback that could help me see what I was doing in a more objective way. I was living in a rather isolated city (I don’t even want to say which one) out of necessity, and had to drive 2 hours away to meet up with people who kind of were doing what I was doing. Every day was pretty much the Me, Myself, and I show. And the dog. He was a great listener. The social aspects of the internet can only go so far with making real connections as well.
Flash forward to now and we’ve been back in Austin for awhile, long enough for me to be surrounded by endless creatives doing all kinds of things for a living. Being in this type of ecosystem inspires me to continue pushing boundaries for what my livelihood can look like. One of the things that helped me most this year is finally getting feedback on the work I’m doing.
I believe that we need to step outside of our own head and thoughts in order to get direction with our brand. It’s only through the selective opinions of others that we can start seeing our businesses objectively, and form a plan for the future. Otherwise, we can spend too much time trying out a bunch of little things to see if they work, or spinning our wheels on creating things because we’re not sure what people are really into or need.
You will go so much farther with your brand if you find the right people who’s opinion you trust to give you expert advice and feedback for you personally. This kind of feedback isn’t something you can get from reading one more blog post or taking another course.
Having a guide or guides along your path is key to reaching where you want to be sooner and in a fully-formed way.
Here are a few ways I’ve cultivated feedback in the past year:
Turn to your friends in your industry or field that do the same thing you do or similar.
You may think this will be giving away ideas to the competition, but quite the contrary. Bouncing ideas off of each other is one of the things we can miss out on by not being in a collaborative environment at a day job. Besides, if you and your friend are that closely aligned yet different in your branding, you should want to feed into each other’s success. The fear of the copycat is something you don’t need to worry about if you truly trust this friend to be just that to you: a friend.
This doesn’t have to be super formal, just schedule to co-work at a coffee shop or have a maker night with wine and few other artisans. Remember to make this feedback arrangement an exchange between the two or more of you; a mutually beneficial setup. You don’t want to get all the feedback and not give them any in return. It’s just good for karma and for keeping everything in balance! You get, and you give. Simple as that.
Go to community events with others in your industry.
I regularly go to local boss get-togethers and freelancer meetups here in Austin. Nothing will help you see where you are in your journey like conversing with others and listening to their stories of victories and struggles. The feedback exchange should be the same here, don’t just walk around looking for clients or someone to latch on to that you think may send you business. Never go in with this approach. Be natural and there’s no limit to where your helpfulness, insight and genuine ability to listen will take you. The feedback you receive by having these honest and open conversations goes a long way to helping you understand your purpose with your business.
Hire a coach that is aligned with your values.
I can’t say enough about how my coach has helped me on my own journey. The investment you make in money to work with someone knowledgeable and able to guide you along your path to livelihood is insignificant when you think of the value that comes from it. Hiring someone that is totally cool with me talking about my business and giving me the support and feedback I’ve been needing the whole time has been one of the best decisions I’ve made so far. I wouldn’t be sharing my expertise in this effective way without her!
When you select a business or content coach, the main thing to remember is to find someone who aligns with your values and is taking a similar approach to their business as you are. Read their blog (yes, they should have one), follow and interact with them on social media, and sign up for their email list to make sure you will feel confident in your investment. This person should be someone whose opinion you trust.
The feedback exchange I talked about earlier is something that I experimented with this year on a one-on-one level with creatives. I’ve talked to numerous online entrepreneurs to learn about their struggles and offer advice for their brand direction, how to alter their website to get hired, and suggestions for how to realize their goals in reality. This work has led me to create a new 1-hour offering for you guys. You can learn more about Collaborative Synergy here.