Did you know that in 2021, 56% of UK businesses were solo proprietorships? These businesses are so important for the economy, but they come with many challenges. As owners, we have to manage all aspects of our businesses, whether they require tasks that are part of our skillset, or not. We have to be everywhere and do everything. And we have to do it alone. Unless we travel to a coworking space, we have nobody to bounce ideas around with. Nobody to share the responsibility for decision-making. Nobody to sanity-check or proof-read things. Working alone can be incredibly difficult and lonely. And this potentially leads to procrastination, Imposter Syndrome, and holding ourselves, and our ambitions, back. And none of us want to experience any of that. Which got me thinking about the importance and value of external perspective on our businesses.
What does ‘external perspective’ mean?
By ‘external perspective’, I’m talking basically talking about anyone who ‘looks in’ to your business from the outside. This could be a friend or a fellow business owner. It could be a subject-matter expert, like an accountant or a marketing consultant. It could be a coach or mentor. It could even be a client focus group! Essentially, anyone with whom you might discuss any given aspect of your business.
In all cases, these examples are ‘outside’ of your business, and with that external position comes fresh approaches, new ideas and different experiences. Because of this, the value of the external perspective that is brought about by these kinds of relationships can be hugely significant. We just need to acknowledge, and make the most of its potential
The world is giving you answers each day. Learn to listen.
And the value it creates?
But to consider the value of external perspective in more detail, we need to understand more about the impact that it can create, both for your business and for you as the owner. Here are just a few examples of what can be achieved once you admit external perspective(s) into your world:
1) You learn new things
The potential impact created by learning new things is a given, and so the value of external perspective in facilitating that learning is hugely important. As solo business owners, we can’t possibly expect to know everything that we need to know to create a successful business. So be open to learning from others. You’ll benefit hugely from their shared knowledge and experience.
2) You see things from different angles
We are all different, and in my opinion, that’s something to be celebrated. The value of external perspective in this capacity is exactly that. Meaning that when we discuss something with others, our differences mean that we become able to see things from different angles. To understand other people’s interpretation of things. Sometimes an external perspective is necessary when we get too close to something, with it’s value coming in helping us to be able to see the wood for the trees.
3) You gain confidence
We’ve all been there. We think we’ve come up with a good idea or similar, and that’s great. But sometimes a lack of confidence can stop us from putting that idea out there. So by talking to others and getting their support and input into what we’re doing, we gain confidence. In this case the value created by an external perspective is found in knowing we aren’t alone, and that we have people in our corner.
4) You are made aware of new opportunities
Sometimes, the value in external perspective comes in the discovery of, or introduction to, new opportunities and connections. True, you might talk to someone about your business, and they might not be your ideal client, thus unlikely to buy from you directly. But what about that person’s network? That person may know the perfect person to help you, or know plenty of your ideal clients! They may even be able to give you inside knowledge and open the door for new connections. But if you didn’t speak to them to get their perspective, that potential remains undiscovered.
5) You gain a ‘team’
The final way in which external perspective creates value for you and your business is that when you seek this kind of input, you are effectively adding to your ‘team’. Which means that you are no longer alone, and that you have people to call on whenever you need them, their connections, their advice and expertise.
How do I gain external perspective on my business?
The answer to this depends on what you are looking to achieve by gaining an external perspective. It might be that you just need to chat with one of your peers or a friend or family member – in which case, all you need to do is ask. Or it might be that you need input from a subject matter expert like an accountant or a social media professional. In which case, you could of course Google – but my advice is always to ask for recommendations from other business owners. Or if you’re looking for longer term, in-depth external perspective, you could consider a business coach like myself.
First things first though, start with what you need. Write a shopping list of things that would benefit from an external perspective. And if you’re not sure, book a free consultation with me and we can work out a plan together.
However you decide to seek an external perspective on your business though, don’t be afraid to dive in and ask for it. The value of doing so can truly be transformational.