In Feb 2014 I walked away from my business model. My old service had supplied publicity campaigns to business owners and business authors. The writing had been on the wall for traditional media campaigns (thanks to digital disruption) for some time, and the day finally came. It didn’t feel viable. It didn’t feel ethical. And it had stopped being fun.
I needed a new service. It felt like it should be easy to create, but all I felt was frustration and confusion.
I knew this was because I had a blind spot, but I didn’t seem to be able to work around it. I got there in the end though. How?
The main tool I used was questions, lots of grounded questions; the kind that sound very simple, but are actually quite hard to answer. An example being: “What do we do for our customers?”
Hmm … what did I do?
I looked at three clients who’d done a significant amount of work with me that didn’t revolve around traditional media campaigns. I completely dissected the services I’d provided to them and asked: “What did I do for them? What worked for them? What did they get out of that?”
I eventually realised people weren’t coming to me for media campaigns. They were coming to increase their business profile, create social proof and establish themselves as go-to experts.
As a result of this, I created entirely new services based on my client’s ultimate needs. Services that made good use of my experience and knowledge.
It feels silly now that I couldn’t see the answer sooner. But that’s the nature of blind spots isn’t it? They require us to tilt our heads just so in order to bring them into view.
Here are nine ideas for spotting your business blind spots.
- Listen for the problems your clients describe. Focus less on your solution, hear them out and understand. You will find gaps and opportunities.
- Listen to your kids/spouse/bestie. They know you like nobody else and see your blind spots too. These days I ask my twenty-year-old daughter. She tells me what the answer is – and points out how obvious it is. And she’s always right. On both counts.
- Stay grounded. By that I mean keep your ear close to the ground. Don’t run your business from an ivory tower. Be in touch with clients and broader changes to the context you operate in. Given the decline in influence of mainstream media it seems I got out of traditional publicity at a good time.
- Ask, “What do we do for our customers?”. Ask it again and again until you find the simplest, most grounded answer.
- Ask customers what they consider is your highest value. It might not be what you think.
- Get out of ruts and ‘same old’. Do things differently to break patterns and habits. Change your schedule.
- Do activities that completely clear your mind. I’m known for spending a lot of last year at a local beach and hanging in cafes. I needed a clear mind to see the bigger picture.
- Note any fear or feelings of being trapped. Both are good guides to seeing how you’re boxed in and where you need to break out.
- Listen to that little nagging voice in the back of your mind. Turn it right up to see what it’s saying.
If you look where you always look, you’ll find what you already know. (ie If you look to last year, you’ll only find out what happened last year!)
Listen to others, listen deeply and broadly. Contort your own view and see things differently.
Put a different pair of glasses on and see if the business blind spots come into view.