How Working 'Outside' of Your Business Is Key to Running It Take a fresh look at how you're seen by your prospective customers.

By Jeffrey Shaw

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It may still be a difficult idea to execute when you're a small business, but the idea of not getting caught up in the minutia of running your business is a good one. But here's an even better idea: Work outside of your business more than on it.

What does it mean to work outside of your business? It means to be objective. Imagine you are an outsider to get a fresh look from the perspective of the audience you want to reach. The closer you are to your business and the more integrated your business is in your life, the more challenging this is. This is why self-employed and small business owners often don't see how their business is perceived differently than they intend.

Somehow, business owners often forget they are also consumers. When you receive the auto-reply message on LinkedIn from someone selling their services, has that ever worked for you? Have you ever received an immediate auto-reply and thought, "Oh great! I'm so glad they messaged me immediately because I am so eager to buy their services even though I have no relationship with them at all!" If such a practice has never convinced you to buy, then what makes you think it's going to work on anyone else?

Related: 6 Ways to Maximize Your LinkedIn Profile's Impact

There seems to be this trend in offering uninvited criticism as a means to point out someone's value proposition. I received an email recently that stated, "While you're creating some wonderful content, you don't seem to have much of an audience," followed up with all the ways the sender could help quadruple my audience. With a little investigating, I couldn't find a single instance where they had an audience on any social media platform that was larger than mine. But they're going to help me increase my audience? What they had was a canned process to point out a weakness for which they believed their services provided a solution. I couldn't help but wonder when the last time insulting someone to get them to hire you worked.

Consider your brand message and the messaging you put out. It's amazing how often businesses will market death and mortality and think it's going to inspire people to take action. Financial planning is big on this. Typical messaging speaks of being ready for the ultimate end. The end of work, health and of course, the end of life. Even industries like the photography industry will stress capturing moments for posterity and for loved ones to have when you're gone. Does planning your financial future because you're going to die inspire you? Or would planning for all the living you want to do be more enticing?

Taking a moment to think and feel like the audience you are trying to reach will help you see and feel the way they might. If pointing out your demise doesn't inspire you, there's a good chance it's not going to inspire anyone else.

Related: The Secrets to Creating a Powerful Brand Message Using the 'Trial Lawyer Marketing Method'

It's been said — we are far more alike than different. Sure, our emotions, responses and circumstances are different. But you can pretty much be guaranteed that if you don't like the way someone is marketing to you, there's a good chance a large number of people aren't going to like it when you market to them the same way.

Work outside of your business more than on it. Imagine you are the audience that you are trying to reach. Would you, as a consumer, like the way you are marketing your business? If not, change it. Take a look at your marketing strategies, your brand and marketing messaging and ask, "If I were my prospective customer, would this inspire me to choose my business? Or would it be a turnoff?"

Related: Connecting With Your Target Audience Through Video

Wavy Line
Jeffrey Shaw

Small business coach

Small business coach, Jeffrey Shaw is the author of The Self-Employed Life and LINGO, as well as an in-demand keynote speaker. He's the host of the top-rated podcast, The Self-Employed Life and a LinkedIn Learning instructor. Shaw's TEDxLincolnSquare talk is featured on

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