Outside In


Outside In Photo

Starting a company is like entering a tunnel. There is so much for you to do that you have no time to look around, so your world shrinks. You are so busy moving from problem to problem that it gets harder and hard to think about your company objectively.

This is why so many founders develop tunnel vision, they stop looking around. The less they look around the worse it gets and they end up making decisions that are, frankly, clearly wrong.

They have lost perspective.

Being able to think about your company from the outside is an important skill, one that will help you avoid tunnel vision and continue to make sound decisions. By putting yourself in the shoes of someone on the outside, you can see all of the strengths and weaknesses that might not be visible during your daily routine.

If you have trouble thinking about your company objectively, there are a number of ways to reset your thinking and break out of your rut.

  • Reverse Pitch. Have one of your investors or advisors pitch your company back to you. Not the way you pitch yourself, let them pitch you their vision for what your company does. Seeing your company pitched with fresh eyes always opens up new opportunities.
  • Seek out critical feedback. One of my favorite questions to ask investors, advisors and employees (both actual and prospective) is: “If this fails, what is the number one reason why?” It empowers them to share the critical feedback they were holding back from you and forces you to confront the harsh reality you might be missing.
  • Dedicate time to thinking. Sometimes, it can feel like you need to be productive 24 hours a day to keep up with your business. It’s critical to set aside time in your day when you aren’t being productive, you are thinking about your business / market / customers /etc. That thinking time will save you hundreds of hours down the line by allowing you to lift your head up from the tactics of your day to day.

Ironically, the more successful you are the easier it is to have tunnel vision because the feedback you receive is that tunnel vision works. When you are failing the world wastes no time knocking you around and forcing you to look up.

So, make it a habit early to think outside in. Who knows what you might be missing?



Reprinted by permission

Image credit: CC by Victoria Tunnel

About the author: Sean Byrnes

Sean is the founder of Flurry, the leader in advertising and analytics services for mobile applications. He is currently an advisor, mentor and angel investor in the San Francisco bay area. You can read more of his advice and thoughts on building businesses on Sean On Startups and his personal website.

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