Gerber Spotlight: How To Handle Naysayers In Your Business


Every first-generation entrepreneur (FGE) needs a mentor—someone who understands business, wants to see you win, and knows how to make that happen. You also need the love and emotional support of immediate family members and close friends, because being a FGE is a lonely place and lots of love is critical. Just like Led Zeppelin’s song, we need a “Whole Lotta Love.” Your support network may offer their input in a positive and supportive tone, but their advice is not quite what you need. In fact, sometimes their advice is the complete opposite of what you need.

In order to move forward in your business, it’s critical that you are wary of negative input or wrong advice from individuals I call “naysayers.”


Naysayers are people who intentionally or unintentionally question, criticize and doubt your business decisions and abilities. They are the glass-half empty individuals that rain on other people’s parades. Often, they project negativity because they don’t have the personal fortitude to be entrepreneurs themselves, and therefore measure their own worth against others. It is the naysayer’s natural tendency to discount everyone else’s ideas.

There are also unintentional naysayers, who offer advice from a place of love and support, but are completely off the mark.

 Here’s how to deal with naysayers:


Naysayers may be masquerading among your family members, friends or business colleagues. They may have no experience or perspective about business, but are lovingly skeptical. Or, they subconsciously don’t want you to succeed, because your success reminds them of their own shortcomings. Either way, you might not identify them as naysayers at first, but over time, you will begin to notice that they constantly bring you down and subtly hint why your great ideas won’t work.


It is vitally important to not let naysayers influence you. There is nothing wrong with considering other people’s opinions that are different from your own, but don’t let naysayers change your focus or desire to succeed in your business.


Your support network is different from your business advisors, mentors or consultants, who you rely on for sound business advice. You need a support network because starting a business is stressful and unpredictable. You need people to stand by you through your business’s ups and downs—when you’re feeling temporarily depressed, angry, confused or ridiculously euphoric. This is their purpose. Take their input with a grain of salt.


Instead of taking business advice from your historical support network of love, look to your business network—those who have had business experience and success themselves—for their input and advice. They can help you view your business and your business’s goals through perspectives and backgrounds other than your own. They know how to win, and can help you win, too.

It’s important to note that not all naysayers are intentional. It is entirely possible that a concerned spouse or parent could be a loving, unintentional naysayer. They may question your decisions out of a desire to protect you, and because they can’t understand why you would want to start your own business when working for someone else is a safer choice.

Your network of supporters are your cheerleaders that celebrate your victories with you, encourage you through your business’s tough times, and offer input when asked. If you can receive feedback and input—even from both intentional and unintentional naysayers—and continue to hold fast to your ideas and your plan, you will be well on your way to building a successful business.

How have you handled naysayers in your business? Share with us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn!
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