- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

The Dastardly Danger Of Getting Too Close To Your Business

4th October, 2017

The Dastardly Danger Of Getting Too Close To Your Business

‘You can’t do the surgery, Dr. Powers, you’re too close!’


The impossibly handsome surgeon drops to his knees, sobbing. He’s distraught that he’s been stopped from operating on his equally handsome long-lost twin brother (who’s been injured in a freak accident involving an oil spillage and a grand piano).


It was a pretty dire film, I have to admit, even by my very low standards. (This is from someone who watched the whole of Alvin and The Chipmunks quite happily.)


But that line about ‘being too close’ stuck with me, because I realised that it’s something that I often hear from my clients.


‘I’m just too close to my business – I can’t see the wood from the trees anymore. It’s so hard to explain what we do in less than a thousand words!’


And as a business owner myself, I completely get it. When you’re so entrenched in the minutiae of your day-to-day, it can be hard to communicate the value you offer without it turning into a 3-part mini series.


Everything that you do can seem mission critical, so it can be tricky to know what to include in your pitches, presentations or meetings, and what to leave out.


And the more you know about your subject, the harder it becomes. And the more complex your business, the worse it gets. Argh!


Why? Because like the impossibly handsome doctor, sometimes you’re just too close to have perspective or be really effective. To know what’s really going to influence your clients and what should stay on the cutting room floor.


So what’s the answer? How do you get some valuable perspective? Well, try looking outwards for your inspiration.


Take an interest in businesses far removed from yours – whether they’re big household brands or one-woman bands. Look at their marketing materials and ask:


  • How do they communicate – with lots of words or few?
  • Do they use lots of detail or stick to high level?
  • Are they successful or do they fall flat? Why?
  • Do they use data, stories or other tricks to add colour to their business?
  • What’s their tone like – formal or friendly? How does it make you feel?
  • What exact words do they use to describe themselves and their industry? Which ones do you like and why?
  • What ideas can you steal borrow?
  • What do you hate (and need to avoid in your own communications)?
  • Sign up to a variety of other business’ newsletters and divert them into a dedicated email folder so you can refer to them for inspiration whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed. I promise it’ll help you to bring everything into focus again.


So the moral of the story is to go in search of some vital perspective to counteract being too close. And never, ever accept film recommendations from me.

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

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