Why entrepreneurs need annoying sideline critics

In defense of the sideline critic

Boris is the wise ol’ CEO of TNW who writes a weekly column on everything about being an entrepreneur in tech — from managing stress to embracing awkwardness. You can get his musings straight to your inbox by signing up for his newsletter!

It must be wonderful to be a sideline critic. You can easily find the defects in other people’s work or products, point them out in an annoying way, and instantly feel unique and smart. As long as you don’t have to go through the messy process of delivering on your feedback and actually fixing things, you can freely enjoy the moment and bask in your smugness.

Sadly though, sideline critics don’t get a lot of credit for their work as nobody likes to be confronted by a back-seat driver. I don’t need to tell you how deeply frustrating it is when you’ve spent blood, sweat, and tears on a project, only to have someone casually criticizing a tiny detail. And it’s even worse when they’re right. 

While it’s normal to want to duct-tape their mouths closed or superglue their tongues to the roofs of their mouths, I’m afraid I’ve got tough news: you need to listen to them. 

They might appear parasitic — not doing any of the work but oh so eager to tell you what’s wrong — but understanding their mindset is important and their feedback might be useful (even though you want to burn the keyboard it was written on).

After all, we entrepreneurs can take the criticism… as long as it is constructive and well-meant. We all want the same thing: to succeed. So surely we would like to hear any pesky detail (that we obviously would’ve spotted on our own, if we had the time), no matter how painful it is when it’s rubbed in our weary faces.