How to handle the fear of criticism when starting & growing an online business
Today I want to talk about fear and criticism.
I know these seem like kind of out there topics from what I normally speak about on this blog, but the topics really are relevant to having the courage to build a business online, so today I’m diving into it!
First I want to talk about the fear of criticism before it’s happened. The fear that criticism could come. Having spoken to a lot of people who are dreaming of starting an online business, I know this fear holds them hostage and can stop them from ever taking one step forward.
And second I want to talk about what to do when the criticism does indeed come. Because at some point it will, and it will straight up suck, but regardless, you need to get through it.
How to handle the fear of criticism to come
Criticism from loved ones:
When you want to go and do something wild and out there, like building your own blog or online business, it’s not completely out of the ordinary to expect some criticism from those you know.
“Will that business idea really work?”
“Oh no, you’re not going to become one of those annoying people on YouTube are you?”
“… It’s been 2 months and things don’t seem to be working out, sure you don’t want to go get a normal job? Starbucks is hiring.”
If you’re fearing these comments to come, know this one thing; if these comments are coming from family and friends, they come from a good place in their heart.
Your loved ones want the best for you, they want you to be safe and not throw your life away. People are afraid of the unknown and change, so take a moment to think about what this person believes to be true in their life.
My parents worked for the government for 30 years each. They both had stable jobs their entire lives and a pension from the government. And it worked out for them. They didn’t live an extravagant life by any means, but they got by and it worked out good enough in their eyes.
My friends finished university and went to work for large, established companies and it was going well enough for them too.
So that’s what they know, and therefore that’s what they suggest.
Us going off to work for ourselves and build something online is pretty foreign to our loved ones, it’s the unknown to them and that’s where I believe the comments come from.
So the next time a loved one says something to rain on your business parade, just know where it comes from.
They’re just afraid of what’s different and they’ll encourage you to do what they’ve seen to be true in heir life. They want you to be safe, and they’ll make comments to encourage you in whatever direction safe has proved true in their lives.
If you’re really fearful of these comments, or already know you have very vocal family & friends, I loved Holly Becker’s suggestion in episode 3 of my podcast.
“What I would just say is just get started. Don't even tell anybody what you're doing. I mean, I think that's the first thing women kind of screw up at is we get an idea and we just tell everybody, like that's us, right?
I mean, you want to lose weight or you want to start the gym or you want to be, whatever it is that you want to do, you want to have a child, you just start talking.
You just tell everybody, ‘oh, I'm going to have a child, I want to get fit, I want to go to the gym,’ and we talk, talk, talk, talk, talk and before you know it everyone has an opinion and they're just spitting at you, ‘no, don't go vegan. You should eat this. No, you don't want to try that diet.’
And before you know it you finish before you start, you quit before you begin because of all the negative feedback because everybody has an opinion.
So what I learned is don't tell anybody. Don't talk about it. Get it going, be your own spy, get your blog set up, get your Instagram going. No one has to know. Just get started. Get going. Get going. Every day post, post, post, get it going. And then after you start to see a little bit of feedback, then you start telling your husband or your boyfriend or your friends and then you can reveal ‘this is what I've been doing for the past four months and no one knew about it and I have my own thing going here.’
So that's what I think that really works the best is just shut them all down very easily by just not telling them.”
Comments from randoms on the internet:
This is a big one I hear a lot. Fear of what people on the internet will say about what you’re creating.
“What if someone comments on my blog post that I have no idea what I’m doing or that I’m wrong?”
“What if someone finds me out to be a fraud?”
“What if someone says mean things on my video?”
As someone who had these fears in the past, I have some experienced advice on this one.
First, these things happen a LOT less than you would actually imagine.
I was writing blog posts about Squarespace and calling myself a web designer long before I felt really confident doing it. I felt like a fraud, but regardless, the people of the internet didn’t seem to know.
Faking it till you make it really does work in this situation. I am the go-to Squarespace girl now, I’m not only not a fraud, I’m the expert on the topic.
But I wouldn’t have been if I stopped myself from creating anything online due to fear of the comments coming.
Second, and more practically, if this one is reallyyy screwing with your mind and stopping you from getting started, know that you can turn the comments off. Both on a Squarespace blog or YouTube, there’s options in the settings to disallow comments or have comments only be published when you approve them.
So really, don’t let this one stop you, there’s very practical fixes for it.
And again, while yes it absolutely does happen, it doesn’t happen to me nearly as much as I expected it would at the beginning.
How to handle criticism now
So, someone just said something shitty about you on the internet, spoke badly about you or cut you down IRL?
Honestly, my heart goes out to you right now. It sucks, I know.
(And if it means anything, I personally think you’re fabulous.)
One positive thing to note, if the comment came from someone you don’t know online, you’re actually making great progress in business. The bigger you get, the more comments come.
So in a way, you’re going in the right direction, even if that direction has some rather annoying downsides along the way.
The Marie Forleo’s, the Jenna Kutchers and the Tim Ferris’s of the world all get these rude comments daily. And now you do too.
So honestly, welcome to the successful club! This is a growing pain, and it’s just part of the territory.
I love what Tim Ferriss had to say on the criticism growing as you grow in his book Tools of Titans.
“10% of people will find a way to take anything personally. Expect it and treat it as math.
Particularly as you build an audience, this 10% can turn into a big number. Mentally prepare yourself before publishing anything. ‘Oh, I have 1,000 readers now. That means that 100 are going to respond like assholes. Not because I’m bad, not because they’re bad, but because that’s how the math works.’ If you anticipate it, it will throw you off less.
On top of that, I assume that 1% of my fans are completely batshit crazy, just like the general population.” - Tim Ferriss
After you’ve realized that if people are taking time out of their day to comment about you then clearly you’re making waves online, next I want you to read the following quotes and let their truth sink into your soul.
"I for one have never received a piece of hurtful criticism from someone who's actually out there accomplishing things in the world...
Most successful people are too darn busy creating things in the world, and actually living their lives to have time to harshly criticize and judge you.
The majority of the time the people who are the harshest critics are creative cowards. They are bystanders on the sidelines of life who risk nothing and create nothing." - Marie Forleo
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings.
So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat" - Teddy Rosevelt
“Living well is the best revenge.” — George Herbert
If you’re still having a rough day because of the criticism, give yourself grace. Take the morning off (if you work for yourself, you can any darn time you please! Great right?!)
Be kind to yourself, but don’t let it drag on. You’re allowed time to feel badly, but don’t let the criticism stop you for good. That’s giving away your power.
The haters don’t have the power to stop you, not if you keep going.
So how do you show the critic that you’re the better person?
You keep showing up, you keep putting yourself out there, you keep chasing your dream, you keep reaching your goals and you keep on being a success!
Whatever it is that’s on your heart to share with the world is the best possible gift you can give it. So keep on keepin’ on.
And lastly, another practical tip, protect yourself from the comments as much as you reasonably can.
Get an assistant to manage your inbox, the blog comments, the social comments, etc. Delete yourself from the Facebook groups, block yourself from hate websites, and just generally cut off the source.