Business growth isn’t a one-person trek across the landscapes of possibilities. It’s a caravan of partners that are guided through the storms and tribulations of an evolving market by the people you’re working with.
And that guidance often comes in the form of something that’s gained far too much of a negative reputation: feedback.
From employees to buyers to vendors and farmers, feedback is what makes a better future possible.
Or should I rather say “feed-forward”?
Learning to let go
As a business owner and entrepreneur, one of the most valuable lessons I‘ve learned is that letting others in is the only way to realize true business growth.
As a fully remote company, it’s rather ironic that one of Ingredient Brothers’ key differentiating elements is the fact that we’re such a close-knit community. It’s a closeness that’s rooted in the fact that we’ve truly made our people part of the company, giving them ownership of their roles and allowing them to help us steer the business in the best possible direction.
And even if that direction isn’t always where I would have gone, I’ve learned to embrace the fact that this isn’t my project alone anymore. It’s a collaboration between experts in their respective fields who are working to create something meaningful in the food industry.
But it’s not only the input of those within the business that helps mold the future of the Ingredient Brothers.
Turning clients into partners
At the core of this company lies a commitment to service, to giving ingredient buyers and food brands the supplier that we never had when we were on the other side of the table. We’re driven by the relationships behind the purchases that help us to build the most sustainable and beneficial supply journeys possible.
And staying relevant to our customers and offering a service that truly has an impact on the market means listening to others when they say you’ve dropped the ball. It means being open to the feedback that we, as people, so rarely look forward to.
Because opening yourself to the opinions of people who have become a part of the whole is nothing like the feedback of customers. Because when the feedback comes from the outside, it often just feels like our shortcomings are being taken on parade, doesn’t it? It leaves us feeling exposed and uncovered.
So in the same vein as our inclusive employee relationships, we try to make our clients (and most importantly their feedback) an intimate part of Ingredient Brothers.
Our partners on both ends of the journey, the buyers and vendors, know that they have a stake in Ingredient Brothers’ future. Just like we have a stake in theirs. That’s why we have to acknowledge the fact that our feedback and open discussions matter. Because it’s not about pointing out mistakes and having power over someone’s actions, it’s about showing partners where they can improve and how they can become even greater.
Making feedback work
Even though feedback can be used to build us up to something more, it can easily be used to make us feel small as it breaks us down as well.
Joe Hirsch breaks down these two feedback schools as follows:
Window-gazers: Gazers tell others what to see, trying to impose their own, specific view of performance on others.
Mirror-holders: These people offer feedback in a manner that helps others see the effect of their performance, asking questions rather than imposing viewpoints.
It’s a slight shift, but bringing that collaborative element to feedback makes a world of difference.
Because feedback shouldn’t be something to hold people back or show them how much they’ve failed. It should be about showing them how much more they can achieve. It shouldn’t be about looking back, but rather looking forward to the possibility of a better future.
Looking forward instead of back
In Joe Hirsch’s TED talk, The Joy of Getting Feedback, he discusses the topic of feed-forward, the cunning play on words that helps to illustrate the difference between supportive and destructive feedback.
“Getting feedback only makes us smaller when it looks back on a past we can’t change instead of a future we can.”
Those words perfectly sum up how feedback can be used to guide the way forward instead of criticizing the trodden path behind us. Because this way you introduce the joy of knowing things can be done differently and better to the picture.
Sticking to our vision, evolving with the needs
In a world where consumer decisions are driven by platforms such as Google Reviews and Hello Peter, we’re facing a very real risk of falling out of touch with the people who could have helped us evolve. Because it’s become far simpler to talk about someone than to them.
So while we cherish every online review (whether they’re good or bad), we cherish direct feedback even more, where we can see the mirror being held up to Ingredient Brothers and start evolving into the supply partner you’re missing in your life.
That’s where we started. And that’s always what we’ll be: the partner the food industry needs. Want to share your thoughts, ideas, or challenges? Emi, Fran, and Eran are here to listen and collaborate. Let’s connect and pave the way for your success. And don’t forget to explore our catalog to discover the vast array of ingredients awaiting your culinary creations.