What part of your business don’t you see? We do not always know what it is we do not know. Similarly, we are not always aware of what we do not see, what has become so familiar that it has “disappeared” from our attention.
For instance, I drive past the Facebook main campus and their huge “Like” thumb symbol out front about 5-6 times a week. The only time I notice it is the 2-3 times a month that I see yet another set of visitors taking their pictures in front of the sign. Then I am reminded again of how much we in Silicon Valley take for granted our proximity to the headquarters of some of the biggest names in business. Facebook, Google, Cisco, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, McAfee, eBay, and many more have become part of the landscape. They are no longer larger than life–which was a bit like I perceived them 20+ years ago when I first moved out here, and like today’s snap-shooters undoubtedly see them. I’ve been to meetings on their campuses, know people who have worked there, and barely turn my head when I drive by. They have “disappeared” from my attention due to familiarity.
The same thing can happen in your business. A brick and mortar facility can start to look a little ragged: scratches here, smudges there, clutter on the counter, outdated decor, etc. When was the last time you tried to see your place through the fresh eyes of a new visitor? What do they see? If you are not good at that, ask a friend to take a bunch of digital pictures for you like a new visitor would see the place and then find a tool online that can turn them into mirror images, flipped left for right. That is a trick we can use to cancel the brain’s filtering of that to which we have become accustomed. It will look different enough that you have a better chance of seeing the issues. Or stop by a competitor and see what you see. It may give you some ideas of where to look for similar issues in your business (or even some ideas of things you could spruce up).
Or how about real estate investing? What is it about what you are doing or not doing that you are not noticing? Do you have a team of advisers whom you consult regularly to guide you? (Attorney, insurance broker, CPA, coach, etc.) Ask them to ask you some tough questions.
I used to put a 3×5 card at some random, unused page in my bound notebook that said, “What am I ignoring?” If I ever turned to that page or the card fell out, I had a personal rule that I would not leave work that day until I had spent at least 10 minutes pondering that question. You would not believe the number of issues I was able to anticipate or correct out of those random queries.
We all need to step back once in a while to look at our business through different eyes. These times can be invaluable for keeping things on-track or for preventing problems. Take some time today to consider what it is YOU are ignoring that you should not be.