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The Power of Fresh Perspective: When Businesses Need a New Outlook

mosaic-minThink back to a time where your organization seemed to be stuck. Maybe you’re experiencing it now. I know that feeling of faltering. I’ve experienced it myself.

Whenever I find myself in a situation where momentum is slow, I know it’s time to get a fresh perspective. By stepping outside my comfort zone and inviting new insights, I am more likely to gain valuable insights, uncover hidden opportunities, and overcome challenges.

One of my favorite stories to draw inspiration is from the remarkable success story of Airbnb.

The Airbnb Story: From Broke Startup to Hosting 1.4 Billion Guests Worldwide

The Airbnb story began in in 2007. Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were roommates in San Francisco. Brian and Joe just moved from New York, and they were broke.

Having trouble paying their rent, the roommates were looking for a way to earn extra cash. One day they noticed all the hotel rooms in San Francisco were booked because of an industrial design conference. Meeting attendees were looking for someplace to sleep.

Brian and Joe offered their apartment to conference attendees for $80 a night. The offer included an air mattress and breakfast. They hosted three guests, and this experience became the vision for the business.

Emboldened by their early win, the roommates co-founded the business and welcomed Nathan Blecharczyk as the third co-founder.

After launching their website, their first big setback happened. Only two users registered on the site, and one of them was Brian.

Realizing their business launch was a flop, they relaunched the company shortly before the Democratic National Convention. This time, over 600 people stayed at Airbnbs – basically, Obama fans staying at local Obama fan’s homes.

After the convention, bookings feel back to nearly zero. The co-founders just couldn’t sustain business in its current state.

In a desperate effort to raise capital, the group sold election-themed cereal. Yep. No kidding.

Fortunately, the co-founders big break came when startup accelerator, Y Combinator, invited the three founders to join its winter session for three months of training.

Thematic to this blog, the founders were coached to meet their users. The largest collection of users was in New York. From the meetings with previous guests, the founders uncovered insights about the user experience. Users shared their hesitancy to stay at rentals because the pictures of the guest homes were low quality.

Armed with fresh images of their rentals, the company’s listings soared to 2,500 and close to 10,000 users. The fresh perspective was creating traction.

Several rounds of funding from investors, the company grew to its current state with 6.6M listings worldwide in 100K locations. The all-time earnings by hosts is $180B.

Imagine if Brian, Joe, and Nathan didn’t persist. Where would they be today if they didn’t seek a fresh perspective.

Building a Personal Network for Growth and Development

As an entrepreneur and small business leader, I experience my fair share of challenges and setbacks. Any time I am outside my comfort zone, or I feel stuck, I make time to reflect on the situation. Whenever possible, stepping away from a situation creates the break I need to open my mind to new ideas.

Sometimes, when the ideas aren’t coming to me, I ask my network for help.

Last week I was working on an idea about how to communicate complex marketing strategy using a simple illustration. After four quick iterations I thought I had exhausted my creative capacity.

No new ideas were coming and while the illustration was good, I knew it could be better. I wanted a fresh perspective.

When I called a close friend who’s been a founder, CEO, and consultant to review my work he said, I like where you’re headed with the design and there are a couple things missing for me.

In an instant, my friend Steve saw my vision and provided very direct feedback. Then, something interesting happened.

Rather than tell me how to fix the strategy map, Steve encouraged me to talk.

To his credit, Steve sat there on our Zoom call while I seemed to have unlocked a previously secured vault of fresh ideas. After a few moments I had a short-list of valuable ideas to take the project to the next level.

Steve is an experienced developer of people who understands how to activate people’s creative process. He’s one of those people who I call when I am wanting to banter an idea around. I’m grateful for his friendship.

If you’re not building your professional network, I’d encourage you to do so. There are so many opportunities to tap into a group of peers. Don’t be afraid to also reach out to people outside your professional level – you’d be surprised how many people are open to providing feedback.

There are people who help me because of our friendship. There are others who ask for payment in exchange for sharing their insights. In each case, I’ve grown when I’ve opened myself to feedback, constructive criticism, and co-creation.

Benefits of Seeking a Fresh Perspective:

  1. Identifying Untapped Opportunities: Over time, businesses can develop blind spots and miss out on potential opportunities. Seeking a fresh perspective allows them to challenge their assumptions, uncover hidden gaps in the market, and identify new avenues for growth. By inviting diverse voices and viewpoints, businesses can tap into a wealth of innovative ideas and strategies.
  2. Overcoming Challenges: In the face of adversity, a fresh perspective can provide new insights and solutions. When businesses find themselves stuck in a rut, an external perspective can bring a breath of fresh air, enabling them to reevaluate their strategies and overcome obstacles. It encourages businesses to think outside the box and consider unconventional approaches that may have been overlooked before.
  3. Enhancing Creativity and Innovation: Familiarity often breeds complacency. Seeking a fresh perspective injects new energy and ideas into the business, fostering a culture of creativity and innovation. By embracing diverse perspectives, businesses can harness the power of collective intelligence and generate unique solutions that set them apart from their competitors.

When to Seek a Fresh Perspective:

  1. Times of Stagnation: If a business is experiencing stagnant growth or facing declining performance, it may be a clear indication that a fresh perspective is needed. This could be an opportune moment to conduct a thorough analysis of existing strategies and seek input from external sources to identify potential areas for improvement.
  2.  Entering New Markets: Expanding into new markets comes with a unique set of challenges. Seeking a fresh perspective can provide valuable insights into the local culture, customer preferences, and regulatory landscapes of the target market. It helps businesses navigate unfamiliar territories and adapt their offerings accordingly.
  3. Periods of Change or Crisis: During times of change or crisis, businesses often find themselves in uncharted waters. Seeking a fresh perspective can provide clarity and help leaders make informed decisions amidst uncertainty. It offers a valuable external viewpoint that can uncover hidden risks or opportunities that may have been overlooked internally.

Is It Time for You to Get a Fresh Perspective?

I created my business, Imperatives Delivered, to help small businesses grow. If you are ready to unlock your business potential, I welcome a call with you.

Free Business Assessment

If you’d like to evaluate your growth potential before our call, you may take the complimentary Small Business Growth Assessment. It consists of 15 questions where you rate your organization on a scale of 1-5. It’s free and you’ll get your results immediately. I look forward to helping you with your growth journey.

David LaCombe is the founder of Imperatives Delivered a fractional chief marketing officer service for small businesses. He helps businesses grow by tailoring strategies and data driven solutions. David has extensive leadership experience in product development, marketing, sales, and user communities. Contact David to speak with him about your company’s growth imperative.