Taking a Look at Your Business From the Outside In

by Ken Mueller on December 5, 2012 · 19 comments

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Photo515 300x225 Taking a Look at Your Business From the Outside InEach morning when we take Shadow for his two mile walk we pass this massive building, The Long Home. Opened in 1905 as a home for,

“respectable persons, from the City and County of Lancaster and indigent circumstances, above the age of 55 years, being without a spouse.”

the home was shut down back in January and after spending some time on sale for nearly $3-million dollars, the building on 4-acres of land remains vacant. The company that owns it might convert into more affordable apartments for seniors, or perhaps tear it down and build a newer senior living facility on the four acres of land.

But every time I walk by, I look at the building and imagine the possibilities. In addition to imagining it as the world headquarters of Inkling Media complete with hot tubs, an indoor basketball court, and rumpus room, I think about all of the other things that could be done with this beautiful building, from conference centers to luxury apartments, or even a mega-home for local nonprofits. My mind won’t stop.

Being a consultant is somewhat of a curse. By nature, I am an idea person, a strategist, and a problem solver. People pay me to take a look at what they are doing with their online presence and marketing, and help them do a better job. Sometimes this can mean a few tweaks, while other times it can mean a complete tearing down and rebuilding.

This is a curse, because I often look at the online presence of various businesses and nonprofits who are not my clients, and see the potential. It’s frustrating when I look at a friend’s website, blog, and social presence, and see that they offer great products and produce great content, and yet I know that their online presence is holding them back…and there’s nothing I can do about it for one reason or another.

But when it comes to my own business model, website, and online presence, I have ideas, but for some reason can’t get from point A to B, or beyond. I have several individuals I rely on for feedback and help in defining who I am, what I do, and how I communicate that to the world. I don’t think I’m alone in not being able to do this for myself. Sometimes we are too close to our businesses. In fact some of our friends and family might be too close.

It helps to have that outside perspective. I chuckle as I write this knowing that my friend Justin Brackett recently launched a new company called Outspective, a marketing firm that offers its clients an “outside perspective”. And that’s what I do as well. People hire me to bring my expertise, and perspective as an outsider, to their business.

Every business and organization needs to get that outside perspective. We are too close to what we do to be truly objective. We need people who can push us and move us forward. I’m now looking for this in my life and work as I approach 2013, a year that I have dubbed “The Year of the Ken”. I have some changes planned, but need to flesh them out, and…get that outside perspective from some trusted friends. People who can push me and stretch me, and help me get to the core of who I am and what I love to do. And I look forward to it.

What are you doing to get that outside perspective? Who do you trust with your brand, image, and business model? When other people see you, what possibilities and potential do they see?

 Taking a Look at Your Business From the Outside In
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17 comments
JustInTheSouth
JustInTheSouth

Thank you Ken for the  mentioning me! Not sure how I missed it until now, but here I am. There more we look at get @Outspective  off the ground the more we see that there are few people or companies out there asking for that Outside Perspective. Why? Well, pride is a huge issue. Also, people just think they are that good and don't need help. @HowieG makes a great point. Most companies start with noting more than a dream. Then in it is all hands on deck to keep this think afloat or moving forward. Never really understanding what set them apart is going away because they are just working, working working.  YET, the really smart ones know how to correctly question and ask questions of others!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

I have noticed that businesses often fail to do the simple things to grow. They cut marketing first when cash flow is an issue. The choose the cheap route vs the best route. I see horrible websites all the time with poor e-commerce interfaces or 75 clicks to buy something.

And I have found while many small business owners dream of having their own business so few think they could ever become a big business. No reason they couldn't. And I know often cash is the driver. I have a client that watched as her competitor grew fast either via investors or a big cash hoard. And she easily could of grown just as fast but is afraid to do what she needs to do to grow like that. She talks about it a lot.

And it frustrates me because I tried getting investors for a marketing service that would of been perfect in 2010 but couldn't get any takers. She hasn't even tried and people would jump at the chance.

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

Hey, quit talking about my blog! 

These are some great thoughts Ken. 

Like a lot of folks, I suffer from the "cobbler's kids have no shoes" syndrome. Sometimes I spend too much time considering, and not doing. I do take inspiration from people around me who are doers. They don't always get it perfect the first time, but they take the first step. Sometimes that's the hardest part. 

annelizhannan
annelizhannan

I admire your forethought and desire to stretch for some additional perspective and perhaps change as we close 2012. Often our comfort zone acts as a tranquilizer rather than safe haven for creative thinking or productivity.  However, I know I would be most comfortable and productive from the surroundings you described for the Inkling Media Building, House of Ken.

girlseeksplace
girlseeksplace

If that becomes the headquarters of Inkling Media, I assume you'll be hiring. :). Let me know where to send my resume - I can relocate at any time.

LisaDJenkins
LisaDJenkins

I used to think my inability to do for myself everything I could do for others somehow called my professional worth into question. The day I realized the value (and freedom) of reaching beyond my own perspective to invite the perpectives of trusted peers and colleagues changed the way I made every business decision. My favorite perspectives were those that ran counter to my initial thoughts. Those that said I just might be wrong or those that said I might not be thinking big enough and was shrinking from a challenge out of fear. I'm in a dead space right now and you've reminded me why. Time to start putting some questions out there and begin listening. Thank you :)  

Shonali
Shonali

As you know, 2013 is going to bring big change for me too... and I can't wait! One of the many things I've learned this year is to listen to everyone, including the naysayers, and then trust my gut. In terms of who I trust with brand, image, etc. - well, I think I (we) have to trust everyone else. We can create, or try to create, the brand/image/whatever we want, but at the end of the day, it's how others perceive us that ends up really being our brand. 

 One of the things I've been thinking of doing - and actually started doing on a one-on-one basis, is asking specific people specific questions; people I trust. They're open-ended, but I ask what they think of when they think of me, personally as well as a professional... and a couple of other questions too. I've gotten some amazing answers so far. I am actually contemplating floating a short survey to a few people - again, folks I trust, and whose opinion means a lot to me - to see what they come back with.

Good luck to you in 2013, my friend. May it indeed be The Year of The Ken!

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

Great post Ken. Great time of year to be contemplating it.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@JustInTheSouth @Outspective @HowieG It was funny, I've had this post sitting for almost a year as an idea in my drafts, and when I picked it up again to write it, I wrote the words "outside perspective" and immediately thought of you and your new company. And that's where clients are short-sighted. They aren't hiring us to build Facebook pages, or whatever. That might be a part of it, but they are hiring us for our outside perspective, our knowledge, and our expertise. If they realize that, then they are a step ahead of the game.

Latest blog post: Protected: A Private Note

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@HowieG It is sad that when times are tough, we cut the very thing that can bring cash in the door. I know of a similar business here run by some friends. I want to help them, even for very little cost, but they keep saying they don't have the money. They don't realize the returns they could get.

Latest blog post: Protected: A Private Note

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@LisaDJenkins I think you and I are in much the same place at this point. It'll be fun to take this journey at the same time!

JustInTheSouth
JustInTheSouth

I think you and I must read from the same book Dear @Shonali on top of all the things I have going on.. I will be starting to reach out to people I trust and value and ask opened questions. I'm really excited about it. Why? Because I too need a @Outspective .

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Shonali and good luck to you as well! I have a specific person I want to work with on some of this, but right now that's not possible. Trying to make it happen.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@AmyMccTobin Thanks, Amy. A lot of recent circumstances and comments from others are making me think about a lot of things! But I think we all need to do this from time to time.

Trackbacks

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