Thinking Outside The Box

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

If you are anything like me, when you first started your business you no doubt had a million amazing ways for how you were going to run it, market & advertise it, and lots of crazy ideas to grow your new business. But, like most of us, the general day to day of running a business can often distract us from the bigger picture, those ideas are forgotten and maybe you’re left wondering why you thought it was a good idea to go into business in the first place?! Hey, don’t worry we’ve all been there! It’s a rollercoaster this whole small business owner thang, and 2020 has really shown us a whole new level of ROLLERCOASTER! Am I right?!

Okay, you’re probably thinking well this is a super depressing read… but we had to set the scene before we really started to get into the juicy stuff! Although 2020 has really taken us on a crazy ride, from speaking to a lot of clients and small business owners I feel like it has opened our eyes to see business from another angle, realise just how fragile our business model may be, understand the importance of a backup plan, and most importantly that every business needs to be online, in some shape or form! I kid you not, we have been inundated with businesses needing our help to get online, update their website, or completely rehash the business model to adapt to a new online world.

And this all got me thinking, once we actually start our business, we slowly forget to think outside the box or try doing things differently, and it wasn’t until a lot of us were forced (thanks Rona…) to do things differently than we realised there are maybe better ways to run our business or diversify the way we deliver our products/services. So how can we tap back into that creative mind and unlimited thinking we had before business got in the way?

Read Books

Sometimes we need other people to help us get those creative juices flowing again! In this day and age, there is an unlimited source of personal development, business growth, and marketing books that you could start reading now and never read them all! Reach out to other small business owners and ask for their suggestions on their favourite books. Do some research on the areas of business you want to grow in then find what books fit that category!

TIP: Have a pen and paper handy whenever you’re reading to write down ideas, and sticky notes to tag pages to go back to!

Listen To Podcasts

Much like books, there is a plethora of content now available in the podcast world related to business owners and people wanting to grow! Just search a category you’re interested in and find a podcast that resonates with you.

Not sure where to get started? It can take a bit of trial and error to find the right podcast for you, so try different podcasts till you do find one you love to listen to. Reach out to people you know or ask online if anyone has any business podcasts, in particular, they would recommend. You’ll be surprised as you start listening to something that resonates with you, how many ideas start popping into your head!

TIP: Remember to write notes as you think of ideas (on a notepad or in your phone), you think you’ll remember your ideas, but by the end of the podcast you won’t!

Ask Yourself Questions

Never before have we had to consider the thought of ‘what would happen if there was a world pandemic and I had to close the doors of my business?’. Imagine asking yourself that in 2019, you would have thought you had officially lost your mind! Now, no thought or consideration seems silly. Although the possibility of some things happening may be 1 in a million, just thinking about it will often spark ideas and get you on a roll. Ask yourself some of the questions below AND write down your answers:

  • What would happen to my business if I was critically ill for 3 months?

  • Is it possible to sell my products/services 100% online?

  • If customers couldn’t visit me physically, would my business survive?

  • What parts of my business are not profitable?

  • What parts of my business should I capitalise on?

  • Who are my most valuable customers?

  • Why do people pay for my products/services?

  • What problem does my product/service solve for my customers?

Some of these questions will help you find opportunities within your current business or discover possible threats, and others will help you when it comes to marketing and delivering your product/service.

Take A Step Back

How often do you look at another business and think ‘they should do that differently’ or ‘I’ve got the perfect way for them to improve their business!’... it’s easy to look at someone else's business and find ways to improve it or grow it because you’re looking from the outside! When we’re in our own business we are often too busy to look at our business with ‘outside eyes’, or we come up with excuses for why those ideas wouldn’t work.

Sometimes, the best thing we can do as a business owner steps back and take a look at our business with fresh eyes, think of it like you’re looking at someone else's business, and forget you’re the business owner for a second. What changes do you suggest to the business owner? What would you do differently? How could the business do what they do better? See what I mean? It can be a really positive and eye-opening exercise to look at your business as if it’s not your own!

Subscribe to Newsletters & Emails

Just like books and podcasts, there is a whole online world of blogs, e-newsletters, video blogs, and email subscriptions, and just about all of these are free resources for you to use! So why aren’t people using them more? They’re not making it a priority.

Do some research and look into areas of your business you want to grow, then find some experts who have online blogs that you enjoy reading and subscribe to their regular emails! You will simply get a regular email in your inbox with information, tips, ideas, and support to improve and grow your business (just like this blog you’re reading right now!). Don’t go overboard and subscribe to too many, you will get overwhelmed and never read any of them, just choose 2-3 at first and really make a conscious effort to read every one of their emails and blogs.