Outside Looking In: Why You Need to Talk to People Outside of Your Industry

Please note: This original blog post was created in 2017. This have changed dramatically for me since then. not only did I leave my 9-5 but I have been running my business successfully as a coach and project manager full time for almost 3 years. I thought this lesson was still very valuable so I pulled it out of the vault and recorded a brand new podcast episode from the blog with new reflections and experiences. 

Who do you talk to about your blog and online biz? I know if you’re like me you probably have a group of blog online besties that you talk to about everything. I mean everything about how you’re feeling unmotivated because you had a fight with your mom. About the jerk who dumped you the day before Valentine’s Day. Friends that you email when you’re lacking motivation or need feedback.

You might even talk to your friends about it who don’t totally understand it and have no interest in owning a business or running a blog but they support you. I’m a big believer in having that circle of friends but do you have anyone that you talk to that owns a brick and mortar store? Someone who might operate a product-based business while you have a service-based one?

I have been trying relentlessly for about a year to set up a mastermind group and have constantly hit roadblocks (insert sad face here). In February I joined The Member’s Club created by Carrie Green, founder of The Female Entrepreneur Association one thing that drew me to the Society was the opportunity to meet and connect with other aspiring and current business owners. Carrie and her team took it up a notch when they built networks for each of us to show us different business owners in our area.  The day that I saw my list I started working to arrange a meetup. I planned it for a month away after lots of back and forth about people’s availability and I got it several RSVPs.  On the day of the event only one other person was able to attend. At first, I was a little embarrassed and upset that I was sitting at a restaurant with a table for 6 and there was just two of us but once I started talking to the lady who did show up I knew that this was not a wasted meeting. The woman who I had lunch with owns a restaurant with her husband, very different from what I’m doing. I realized a few things when talking to her that I’ve totally been missing because I’ve been so focused and only communicating with people who are doing the online thing.

They Put Your Elevator Pitch To The Test

If I told someone online I was trying to build my business as an educational platform as a time management and systems project management specialist they would probably understand what I was rambling about. The woman I met with nicely pretty much told me that was vague and asked for more details which made me wonder, am I being totally clear?

It was slightly intimidating meeting with this woman who owned a brick and mortar store and having her quiz me about what I was doing. Intimidating but good. If I can’t simply explain it to someone who wants to understand how could I possibly explain it and sell my services to someone who needs them but doesn’t realize the benefit.

It’s so easy to stay in your comfort zone in the online world because it feels like a safe place. Not many bloggers are vapid meanies so they won’t belittle you or run you down. It’s comfortable but a lot of groupthink can happen in your comfort zone.  By talking to people who can’t automatically finish your sentences when you’re discussing your online business you’re forced to take a step back and look at what you’re doing from the outside.

They Can Open You Up To New Networking Opportunities

Online when trying to grow your business most people are just looking at webinars, content upgrades and resource libraries but she got me thinking about how to make more connections in person.

As the owner of a restaurant, she could email people all day, write amazing blog posts and even host webinars on making your own pizza sauce if she wanted. All that is great but unless she gets people in the door her business would go belly up. Making great content online is important and a great way to build credibility, get your name out there and set yourself apart.  But like the restaurant example blog comments and Instagram likes won’t pay the bills (for most of us). I think that is why it’s so great to hang out with someone separate from that online mindset. It’s easy to start “feeling yourself” online as your list grows, comments rack up and traffic grows but where is the income? A lot of us, myself included, are working day jobs still so the stress of getting income may not be as pressing as if not. You know you have a safety net. I have several clients who have brick and mortar operations, some of them want Facebook likes and page traffic, while others only want to track calls and sales and they think the social media aspect is just fluff. My honest opinion is you need some of both.

Talking to someone with that experience about your business forces you to think about what activities are stress relieving and which are goal achieving.

They See Brand New Revenue Streams

I’ve been so focused on helping other bloggers and online business owners I never thought about how I might be able to help people working offline or corporations for more revenue and reach. The great thing about talking to a brick and mortar business owner when you have a digital-based business is that they tend to think outside the box. In fact, if you’re thinking inside the box they are thinking inside the triangle. It’s a different shape altogether. 

If she owned a steak house she probably wouldn’t go to a farmer’s market to adverse her services. But she may see about having a booth at a local beer festival. She asked if I did or wanted to do courses and suggested I try to set up live events. I casually mentioned something in my work history and she thought of several ideas I wouldn’t have ever thought about for possibly generating more revenue in my business.

They Have A Purer Vision of Your Services & Industry

They aren’t comparing it to other businesses or even to their own. They are basing their opinions and suggestions strictly on what they see and what you tell them.

Have you ever been working on a project and found yourself stuck? Maybe you are working on your great American novel and know that your main character needs to run into her ex Dr. Handsome Face at the ER but you don’t know how to get her there. All your ideas don’t seem right then you casually mention to your boyfriend your dilemma. The book you’ve seen him reading was Captain Underpants, you aren’t expecting an answer you’re just venting. Out of nowhere, he says, “What is she has a panic attack thinks it’s a heart attack and has someone take her to the ER.” Then BAM! You see it she has her best friend Sally, who hates Dr. Handsome Face take her and comedy and drama follow. Your boyfriend may not know how to do a book outline or be able to create a character bio but there he gives random genius. He wasn’t thinking about the character’s seemingly perfect health or any of the other things clouding your ability to see this simple solution.

The same goes for people outside your business. Where another online business owner may not think of that local event you should go to, to scout new clients, you brick and mortar friend might have a list of them.

They also aren’t clouded by their own past failures they just see the details you provide in black and white.

I’m not saying drop your online biz friends and go hang out with brick and mortar owners only. Don’t ditch your business coach with a history in SEO and marketing for someone who doesn’t even have a Facebook account. Just be perceptive and open to people in other industries. At the end of the day, you have to make the decisions for your business but you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting alone. 


  1. Kuleigh

    This is really great advice. I’ve learned a ton from boss ladies that work in totally different industries. They’ve openly shared their skill set and it’s added a lot to mine.

  2. Marette Flora @ Floradise

    I like your point about finding new revenue streams you might never have thought of! Great advice.

  3. Susa

    I agree – for a while, when I worked as a musician (a long time ago), I only roamed in that scene – and it became really limiting, even . I guess it’s all about finding the right mix.

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