Don’t Hold Back the Brutal Honesty!

I was recently involved in a pitch competition, which I thought I had aced…until I got 2nd. When I asked the judge where I had scored poorly, he told me I did a Great Job! Huh?

To me this underlines a major misconception happening in competitions and communities working to foster entrepreneurship: Encouragement is more important that honesty. WRONG! Play this out in your mind for a second. If entrepreneurs are encouraged artificially in the protective coves of competitions and community supporters, and then the entrepreneur launches into the brutal reality of the free market…the disperity in feedback is enough to rock even the most determined entrepreneurs.

Instead I wish the judge would have broken down everything that I didn’t do right, share with me what I should have done, and then, ideally, describe how improving those shortcomings will better prepare me for the open market. For that provides both insights to help me grow and the “challenge” to fuel me to become better!

Our social consultancy trains community leaders to do just this as we build entrepreneur ecosystems. Give entrepreneurs the frank assessment of their business, then the advice for what they should do better, and then close with it is THEIR business so they should do what they think is best. This frank assessment while initially causes the entrepreneur to act defensively will actually empower him/her within minutes to better understand what to do to improve their business. This will actually encourage them, and as they begin to succeed they will tell EVERYONE around them how much you helped!

So the next time you have an opportunity to be nice or tell the truth, be brutally honest! Share what you see, what’s wrong, and how it can be made right! (Just be sure to end with “its your business” as that keeps the perception of free will with the entrepreneur.)

What have been your experiences with being brutally honest? What was the outcome for the entrepreneur?