Let's face it: you can't please everyone and not everyone is going to like you, or what you are doing. It's a fact of life and it's a guarantee in any business, even in one where the community is generally so warm and accepting, like knitting.
I've had my first taste of such this week and I'm going to be honest: I wasn't upset, because I knew it was going to happen, but my mind has been putting a lot of energy mulling this situation over, so this post is going to serve a double purpose: one, once I've written this post, I'm going to move on, and two, share with you five methods on how you can prepare yourself for this situation and how to move on.
As a note, I don't want to turn this into a pity fest for me. I am sharing my experience so that it can help you if this situation ever comes your way.
1. Accept That it Will Happen
No one likes to be disliked. We are social beings and we seek approval from other human beings (for the most part). We are putting ourselves in a vulnerable position by sharing our work, our story, our experiences and for some reason, it strikes a chord and ruffles some feathers. The thing is, we may never know the reason why someone took offense and we can't spend our energies trying to figure it out. It's going to happen, though, and that's ok! (Obviously you're doing something right...)
2. Don't Seek Their Validation
Remember that one episode of Parks and Rec when Leslie Knope tries to win back the approval of a hater? She spends the entire episode learning what the guy likes and plans how to get into his good graces so that she can have his vote for an upcoming election. It fails miserably, and he ends up getting punched in the face.
Don't obsess over this one person and going out of your way to please them. It's exhausting, time wasting and someone could end up with a punched face (I kid, I kid, but let's make sure not to end up there). Your energy and focus is better spent elsewhere.
3. It's Ok to Talk About It
It's ok not being able to feel chipper immediately after a situation like this, but it's not ok to let it consume your every thought. I'm the type of person who needs to talk about problems and hardships before I can move on; it's my form of therapy. It unbottles all the pent up negative energy and I can get some words of reassurance from people I know that I can trust. I was having a hard time falling asleep a few nights ago because my heart and mind were going at a million miles per second so I talked to my husband about it. He gave me some wise words and I was able to relax, feeling much better.
If you are the type who needs to talk (or vent) about a negative situation or needs some guidance, that's totally ok. Find someone you can trust, possibly who has gone through the same situation as you, release that negative energy and after a bit, move on.
4. Don't Let It Scare You From Growth
Yup, I had another "Oh, maybe I should quit" thought when this happened. I knew that this situation was bound to happen, but once it actually did, for a moment, my mind started projecting... "If I continue what I'm doing, then I'm going to get more dissenters, so obviously I should stop now". Then when I actually started to think about it, I realized how ridiculous it was. I can't let the opinions of a very small few deter me from my mission to enrich, encourage and empower creatives.
You have to look back at your "why" (which I've already talked about before in a previous post) to remind you why you are in this. You can't quit because you are afraid of a few naysayers. And considering that you'll find that every entrepreneur goes through this, you can find comfort in their experiences too.
5. Serve Your Audience
As said before, I can't prioritize the opinions of the few who don't approve of me over those I seek to serve. Remember, an online business/brand, regardless of what it does, should strive to serve its audience, not itself. I know that I've helped people in the community, whether it's giving them the motivation they need to push them to action, helping them solve a problem they were having or providing resources, I know that I've done some good and I want to continue doing so. So that is what you need to do to: remember who you serve, acknowledge that you have already done good and find the strength to continue to do so. And if you are starting out: your audience comes first.
I sincerely hope that this post doesn't scare you off from pursuing your passions. If anything, look at it as a rite of passage. If you're stirring up the pot, you're headed in the right direction. As a parting gift, I've made a downloadable pdf of this post for you that you can use as a reference when you find yourself in a similar spot. And I'll say it again to drive the point home: this happens to everyone and that's ok. How you handle it determines the success of your business. Don't give up!
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