By Iqbal Thokan
Don’t let the negativity of others pull you down. Continue on your path and ignore the unfounded and negative comments.
Stan Lee once said, “If you’ve got a idea that you genuinely think is good, don’t let some idiot talk you out of it. That doesn’t mean that every wild notion that you going to come up with is going to be genius, but if there is something that you feel is good, something that you want to do, something that means something to you, try to do it because I think that you can only do your best work if you’re doing what you want to do, and if you’re doing it in the way that you think it should be done and if you can take pride it after you’ve done it, no matter what it is, if you can look at it and say ‘I did that and I think it’s pretty damn good’, that’s a great feeling, so don’t let idiots talk you out of doing something that is good…but you’ve got to have a little judgment”.
Now the prologue to this is Stan’s story of how Spiderman came about. During a conversation with his publisher he was asked to come up with a new super hero and after going back home he came up with the idea of Spiderman by watching a fly walk on walls. When he eventually presented his idea to his publisher, his publisher told him, “Stan, that is the worst idea I have ever heard”. However, that did not deter him and he decided to introduce Spiderman in a magazine issue that was panned for cancellation and once the magazine hit the streets the publisher rushed back to him and asked him to do a series on Spiderman. Now imagine if Stan had listened to his publisher? The world today would be without one of the coolest super heroes created.
The same goes for many of us in business, how often have we come up an idea or product or service and we find ourselves taken back by negative comments of what a ridiculous idea it is and most often than not, we kill it and always live in regret of what was not.
As business owners we need to realise that there are many naysayers out there who can easily kill something great if we allow them to get into our heads, but in the same breath we should also be weary of being that very same naysayer when someone in our business or organisation comes up with a unique or creative idea, an idea that could just be the one that we needed.
Success is not only measured in how much money we make, but success can be measured in how we strive and stay focused and committed to achieving what we desire to set out to achieve. For every business owner it is important to define what success means to each of us and stay focused no matter how many naysayers or how much negativity we may come across.
Success could mean a lot of things for different people; being the owner of our dreams and passion, or making a profit or realising consistent positive return on investment or even seeing our product or service deliver the value we envisioned it to deliver to our target market. But more importantly for any business owner or entrepreneur, success should mean that we were able to build something that allowed us to live our life on our terms making a difference with our product or service of value.
Most of the time naysayers come in the form of close family or relatives and this can have a great impact on us and we need to develop a system that allows us to ignore them and push forward and not allow them to bring us down. Some of the ways we can achieve this is to find likeminded positive people who can edge us on, either within our circles or even within the industry. You’ll be surprised how supportive people can be if they understand and believe in your value and vision.
Talk to other entrepreneurs and business owners who have to go through similar challenges and find out how they deal with the negativity around them and most importantly don’t forget our passion or our main driver of why we in the business we are in and let that be our guiding light to continue to provide the value we are providing.
To inspire you to ignore naysayers, here is a story of a young South African entrepreneur who ignored the naysayers and is now living his dream. 37-year-old Siyanda Dlamini started out his career earning R850 (that’s roughly $42 today) a month when he first started working in the hospitality industry way back in 2001, now he is the co-owner and managing director of the R350 ($17,5) million Regency Apartment Hotel in Pretoria. Siya’s story started as a 15-year-old young boy form Kwa Zulu Natal who already knew that he wanted to be in the hospitality industry. He decided to spend a lot of his time in the catering club and as a boy was continuously teased for choosing this path, but this did not deter him and he continued.
When he later got into his first hotel training it did not work out to well for him and he was outright told, that he did not have what it takes to be in the industry. This again did not deter him but rather encouraged him to continue and as he recalls it was this rejection that actually gave him the opportunity to join another group and continue to pursue his dreams. And as Siya moved through the ranks his big break came through with the opportunity to partner up with an investor who believed in him. As Siya is quoted, “No one can build your dreams for you — only you can do that. You have to back yourself. You can’t expect people to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself.”
Don’t let naysayers put you off and bring you down and find likeminded people who can boost your positivity and confidence. During these new and challenging times, as business owners we will have to try new ways of staying relevant, surviving and thriving.
Iqbal Thokan is an experienced business management consultant and the founder and co-owner of breedingpositivity.com
Forgive my ‘philosophical’ post today but I felt compelled to write this for personal reasons as well as professional. No matter where you find yourself on the big game board of life you’re going to have people enter your life that have less than good intentions shall we say.
Throughout your life, you’ll have those cheerleaders — such as family and friends — who believe in everything you do. They know you will be successful and want to be there to celebrate with you when you are. However, there are also those negative people. They seem to pop up throughout life and like to tell you why you will fail.
I’ve never been sure what motivates these people to look for the worst possible outcome, but I’ve experienced a few myself. Maybe some are worried and are trying to play devil’s advocate, while others may be secretly jealous of your potential. Whatever the case, there are many reasons to ignore these naysayers and focus on creating your own success. Here are five of them:
1. You don’t want negativity creeping into your thoughts.
There is a true power in positive thinking. It may sound like the stuff of superhero storylines, but much has been accomplished just by staying positive. It’s this mindset that helps keep us going in the face of adversity (and naysayers). That positivity can influence others to help you or to change their mind, allowing you to turn a situation around in your favor. Some even refer to a positive mindset as a growth mindset for the very reason that it stimulates greater success.
For QEO Insurance Group founder and CEO David Disiere, keeping others’ negativity out of his own thinking has fueled his highly successful career. Great leaders, he said, have a way of not allowing negativity to get the best of them.
“There are all kinds of unfortunate things that happen in business, but you can’t let negativity keep you down,” Disiere said. “You can’t be the presence your team needs if every day you walk around moping, upset, disgruntled, or unhappy.”
At the same time, Disiere acknowledges that leaders cannot completely ignore naysayers — they sometimes offer a valuable perspective. Instead of dwelling on that negativity, though, leaders must acknowledge the perspective before pivoting in a more positive direction.
“Negativity will drain your entire being,” he warns. “It’s nothing more than an obstacle on your path to success.”
2. You never want to regret not pursuing a dream.
No one wants to have this feeling: “I wonder what would have happened if I had followed my dream instead of letting someone talk me out of it?” That “woulda, coulda, shoulda” state of mind will create regret and resentment. You may feel bitter, especially if you see that someone else took the idea, ran with it, and is now highly successful.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and now one of the world’s richest people, once said, “I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” While you may resent the person who told you that your dream would never become a reality, you’ll hate yourself even more for listening to him or her and letting someone else decide your destiny. If Bezos and his dream of the world’s largest online retailer became a reality, there’s no reason you can’t manifest your own dream into a successful reality by ignoring the naysayers.
3. Your business idea could help a lot of people.
So much about business today is driven by the passion to develop something that really helps others. It could be a product that enables more people to live longer or a service that levels the playing field for an enterprising entrepreneur in a developing country who can now accept payments through a smartphone without needing a bank account.
For example, take the EpiPen, which was created by Shel Kaplan, a former NASA engineer. Since 1980, when the product became available to people whose food and other allergies can cause anaphylaxis, the EpiPen has saved countless lives. Or, more recently, POC Medical Systems has developed an affordable early detection test for breast cancer that has the potential to save lives in countries where cancer rates are rising dramatically while the lack of access to healthcare makes treatment prospects bleak.
Now, think what would have happened if these entrepreneurs had let a naysayer convince them that their business idea was not valid. Thank goodness they pursued their passion to help others, even if they faced negativity.
4. Other people don’t have the same ability to envision your innovative idea.
Imagine if Steve Jobs decided to listen to others when they said no one would buy a smartphone. Or if the team behind Uber or Airbnb had been told that no one would ever use their services. The same goes for innumerable other businesses that offer innovative products and services, including companies like Rent My Way, a rental relationship management tool for landlords, property managers, and renters. The company assists in matching inventory to client needs and manages the experience with transparency for all parties.
While the company is highly successful now, founder Kass Rose, initially had to fend off the skepticism of many who couldn’t see its potential. “When I was first starting out in real estate, it was really hard for me to get anyone to take me seriously,” Rose recalled. “They kept saying that there was no money in rentals and that I wasn’t acting as a ‘real’ agent. Boy, am I glad I didn’t listen to the naysayers (and there weretons of them) along the way. If I did, I wouldn’t be able to show you all the tips and tricks that I learned while building my first profitable company!”
The fact is there are many out there who just don’t have the same visionary abilities you do. They can’t see how innovative an idea is and how it could become something truly disruptive. And that’s OK, because youdo — and others will, too, if you’ve done your due diligence to ensure it will work.
5. You can be the inspiration for others to ignore their own naysayers and keep going.
Your pursuit of success in the face of negativity can make you an inspiration and model for others to follow. Influencers have become a critical component of today’s marketing because what respected individuals do and say is becoming an increasingly important factor in how people make decisions in their own lives. While that influencer effect often involves purchasing decisions, it can also be a driving force in other types of decisions, including whether or not to turn a business idea into a real company.
A good way to become this inspiration is to volunteer your time as a mentor to up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Tell your story in schools, accelerator and incubator programs, and online learning courses. Join a mentoring organization where you can be an enabler for those facing similar naysayers (or disablers) so they can work past the negativity as you did. By charting your own course to success, you can become a positive force for others.
When you set out to start a business, don’t be surprised if a small army of people line up to tell you why you should not—or cannot—do it. And, don’t be surprised if your strongest resistance comes from the people who care about you most.
Before I started my first business 30 years ago, I pitched my grand idea—which included quitting my well-paying day job—to a business mentor, proven entrepreneur, and personal hero who just happened to be my father: Harry Kappel.
His response was, “Michael, you’re crazy.”
Talk about having your feet knocked out from under you. I trusted my dad more than anyone. He was an honest, to-the-point man with a certifiable genius level IQ and a lot of business success. If he said I was crazy, I very well could be!
But, he didn’t stop there. “Son, you’re a man now! You’ve got a fiancée, a house, and a mortgage. You have responsibilities. You’re preparing to be the head of a household that’s in dire need of repair, and you think it’s a good idea to start your business now?”
Then came a barrage of questions I couldn’t answer: “What if this is a complete trainwreck? What if your funds dry up? What if the economy tanks or the government changes the rules on you?”
What if, what if, what if?
When it was all over, it felt like I’d just gone 10 rounds with the small business advisor version of Mike Tyson.
I lived my academic career by the old adage, “C’s Get Degrees.” While I’m not a certified genius, I had given due diligence to these fears and questions. But thinking about these things internally, in a pure and confident voice of indomitable positivity, is quite different than having a trusted third party expose issues in a less than sensitive manner. In the safety of my mind, my grand plans were infallible. However, out in the real world, under the raw scrutiny of my business hero, I suddenly wasn’t as confident about my entrepreneurial future.
Success Isn’t Always Measured in Dollars
My dad loved me, which is why he was so rough on my business ideas. In fact, many of the people who will try to talk you out of your big dreams and ambitions will do so because they care about you. The more they care, the harder they’ll fight.
You need to remember that most people are risk averse. Many people find comfort and security in working a stable job with low risk and a steady paycheck. Even other entrepreneurs will try to talk you out of starting your business because they know just how difficult chasing your dream can be. They’ll try to convince you not to take the leap into the small business unknown, all the while telling you how successful they want you to be.
All this input can be difficult for an entrepreneur, so it’s important to define clearly what it means to be a success.
For a small business owner, success can mean a lot of things: being your own boss, turning a profit, realizing consistent positive ROI, or seeing your product reach the market. But, the one thing success should mean for all entrepreneurs is living the life you want to live. If you want to live life on your terms, by your rules, where you are the boss, then being an entrepreneur is a surefire way to make that happen.
In fact, it was that intense desire to be my own boss that made me buck my dad’s advice and start my own business—in the basement of a factory of all places! Something was calling to me. Something that would empower me to endure being called crazy. Something energized me well into the night, joyfully sleep deprived, as I tried to make a business idea work. I felt something, and I had to follow it because I knew I wouldn’t be happy chasing anyone else’s dream but my own.
I’m glad I did. Thirty years later I’m the CEO of a multi-million dollar online accounting and payroll company, Patriot Software. I’ve made my dad proud, provided for a family, lived an incredibly blessed life, and been able to provide an environment where my co-workers can thrive, follow their dreams, and raise their families.
Knowing When NOT to Listen
I’m a serial entrepreneur, and I can tell you that I didn’t have success because I was the smartest or most business savvy person in the world. I didn’t have all the answers when I started, and chances are, you won’t either. I had an insatiable appetite to learn and succeed. And the desire for success made me a great listener.
When you set off to start your business, you should seek wise counsel from those who know more than you. Remain objective, listen to good input from experienced people, and ignore the fear-filled projections of naysayers if you can logically prove that your idea can be successful.
While this part of your business journey may feel a lot like an emotional intervention, believe me, it’s important. When you are running your business, there is little framework to distinguish between personal and professional life. The two often blur together, with life goals and career goals intermingling until they are nearly identical with each other.
As an entrepreneur you will be constantly put to the test, asked to take risks, and confronted by people who will project their risk aversion on you. You will be pushed to produce a successful business plan defined by hard numbers. You can’t avoid it, so you need to know what and who to listen to, and when to filter out the distractions.
Negative advice isn’t without merit. As a business owner, you need to think things through. Analyzing and testing advice to decipher why the advice is bad can be a great exercise. Businesses aren’t black and white, but gray and nebulous. When you become better at navigating these murky waters, your business has a better chance of succeeding.
My best advice is this: Heed wise counsel from those who have successfully started and run their own businesses, while finding realistic solutions to overcome the negative comments you’ll receive. And, in my experience, the bulk of the advice you’ll receive is going to be negative. Rather than ignore negativity, use it to sharpen your business dreams.
Maybe you’re destined to start your own business, and maybe you’re not. I believe that anybody can start a business, grow their business, and prosper from it. Whether or not you go for it, is up to you. Don’t let people talk you out of something that your gut is telling you is right. I hope this article will help you decide. But, I will promise you one thing: I will not be a naysayer!
Starting a business is hard enough–here’s how to avoid unnecessary negativity.
“People buy these?” My friend exclaimed after looking through my online store, doubt in his voice. “You’re not the demographic,” I calmly explained. But later that night, his comment was still bothering me. “Should I continue working on my store?” asked the little voice inside my head. “Maybe I should just quit.” The negative self-talk spiraled into a small pit of self-loathing and doubt.
I glanced at my store and noticed my product reviews section. I remembered how many people had enjoyed the products I created and remembered that you can’t please everyone. “Screw him,” I thought and started working on new designs.
From friends doubting my ideas to internet trolls sending me hate mail, I’ve encountered hundreds of naysayers along my entrepreneurial journey. Over time, I’ve learned that you’ll always have haters when you choose to put yourself out there.
Here’s four good reasons to ignore the negativity and keep building your dreams.
1. Haters will encourage you to quit too soon.
It took a year and a half to get my e-commerce store to a point where I’m generating positive cash-flow daily. If I had quit my store after some harsh critic in those first months, I would have never pushed past the hard times and gotten to where I am now.
Naysayers can throw a wrench of doubt into your plans and make you question what you’re doing. By doubting yourself or even quitting, you’ll only prove them right. Keep working hard and ignore any unjustified, negative commentary.
Putting yourself out there is scary and haters can make it even harder. Remember that you’re building a business for yourself, not them.
2. Some haters don’t hate what you’re doing–they’re just jealous.
Unfortunately, some of the most negative comments I’ve had about my business or career choices have been from friends and family members. Prying deeper, I’d question, “That’s interesting, why do you feel that way?” Upon further reflection of why they felt so strongly, it often became clear that they wished they had been able to do similar things and the negative voices inside their head had been keeping them down as well. Raining on someone else’s parade is a way other people help justify their own life choices.
3. If you have haters, you’ve ‘made it’.
Whenever I received hate mail in the past about my business or for my writing, I would let it effect my mood, sometimes for days. Once I realized that if someone is taking time to write me a note, they’ve given me the most precious resource on the planet — some of their time. If someone feels the need to send you angry commentary (especially someone who doesn’t know you), you can count that as a win because you’ve done something that gets people talking and felt inspired enough to write you.
4. Haters will drain your time and energy.
Building a business is hard enough — the last thing an entrepreneur needs is negative thoughts bubbling around them. While building my business, I’ve appreciated my friends who kept cheering me on and providing me support along the way, whether or not every idea I had was a winner. Surround yourself with positivity and cut out anyone who is draining your creative energy. It can be hard to let friendships go, but if you find yourself weighted down by their negativity, it’s time to dump the friendship.
Whether you have one hater or thousands, it can feel like a blow to your self-esteem. But don’t get discouraged — ignore them, put your head back down, focus on your business, and watch your dreams come true!