I was spending time with a group of entrepreneurs recently, and we got talking about our experiences of being met with scepticism when trying to get our businesses off the ground. It’s a sensation every entrepreneur will be familiar with.
There are always plenty of people around to tell you that you cannot do something. Thankfully, there will also be people who will see the potential of your ideas, and make useful suggestions. What’s important is to take the constructive criticism and use it, and ignore the baseless cynicism.
Recognising which is which takes some time. The key is to surround yourself with talented people who share your vision – they will help root out the useful advice from the pointless negativity.
I’m sure everyone can think of occasions when they have been told they can’t do things. My teachers told me I couldn’t excel because I wasn’t good with figures. Everyone told me I couldn’t go from running a record label to an airline. But there were people, like my parents and some of my friends, who did believe in me. Most crucially, I also believed in myself.
Back in our discussion, one entrepreneur shared a story about Franklin Delano Roosevelt's simple and effective response to naysayers telling him he couldn’t do things. As he discussed a new outlandish idea, an assistant told the President: "You can't do that!" "I've done a lot of things I can't do," replied FDR. What a great attitude to have – rather than feel down about other people’s pessimism, see it as a challenge to overcome.