Anywhere is a good place to take a step back.
As long as it is metaphorical.
For example, the terrace in front of the sea where I meet Miguel.
A few cool beers between us. And some much, much needed shade, even if it’s only the early hours of this September morning.
We hadn’t met before so we started with introductions.
Well, actually, he had read something about me (otherwise he wouldn’t have contacted me).
And I had done some research.
I like to go prepared to meetings.
When he starts to talk about his project I have to interrupt him to clarify two things:
First. That everything we discuss in this meeting will be confidential.
Obviously this is a first contact and we have not yet signed a confidentiality agreement. We will do that if we continue to work together.
But I have to stress this because I like to ask questions in order to properly understand the situation of your project and to be able to advise you well. I need to know numbers, dates, partners, details.
Secondly. That this is a preliminary contact meeting.
I say this to control expectations.
Don’t expect to come out of the meeting/beer with a full consultancy or an elaborated brainstoming.
And I say this despite the fact that I, who know myself, already know that I will not be able to keep quiet when the opportunity arises to help in some way.
Clarifying these two points has a relaxing effect and makes the conversation much more fluid and profitable.
And Miguel explains his project to me.
From how the initial idea came about with his collaborators.
To his experience/failure with the first clients.
What led him to pivot, to change the model, to what they are currently doing.
The project is succeeding and has very good expectations.
So… Why this meeting?
There seems to be something that is being left out.
That feeling that the project has a greater potential that is not being exploited.
So Miguel has taken the bull by the horns and has taken action.
He is contacting several people who are leaders in innovation projects.
People I know and admire and who have the ability to know how to help entrepreneurs and business people with new ideas.
And that is where the value of conversations like this lies.
Knowing how to take a step back to take a broader view of the business.
That’s why the trees don’t let you see the forest.
Miguel has been able to take the more practical route.
There are people who certainly know much less about our industry than we do.
And yet they can provide us with that broader strategic vision that will help us grow the business and take it to the next level.
Because, as I said before, I don’t know how to comply with the idea of just listening because it’s a first contact.
And I put forward and propose the ideas that occur to me about where and how this project could be scaled up in the near future.
Miguel has two great merits:
One: knowing how to recognise his strengths and weaknesses and seeking support and collaborators to help him compensate for those weak points.
Two: knowing how to pose it as a challenge so that people, inevitably and willingly, put their neurons to work at his service.
So I suggest that you periodically carry out the following exercise.
Even if things are going well.
Especially if things are going well for you.
Set aside a few hours to examine your business or project and ask yourself two questions:
Am I tapping into the full potential of my project to make it grow?
Who can take that broader view that helps me identify new possibilities?
This step back will help you clarify and adopt a better path for the future.