All of you children of the 70’s sing with me now:
“Who are the people in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood!”
I’ve spent the last two weeks with my head down, nose to the grindstone, trying to get a house not only on the market but also ready for an open house! Between packing, cleaning and syncing schedules with a painter, my whole world has been consumed with this one goal. My neighborhood, let alone the rest of the world, could have washed away and I never would have noticed – I was that focused! Unfortunately, those of us who run small business can often fall into this same mind set.
As a small business owner we have goals and benchmarks at the forefront of our minds. We have a path to follow and a determination to get there. We put our heads down and get to work. And therein lies the problem – we put our heads down. We are so focused on our goals that the rest of the world ceases to exist. We miss out on numerous ideas, opportunities and collaborations!
I finally came up for air this past weekend and started looking around. Now if I was Elmo, I’d have seen that my neighborhood has a grocer, postman, doctor, teacher and librarian. The beauty and simplicity of Elmo is that he is three and learning. He hasn’t reached an age where he’s so busy he tries to shut the world out. He learns, creates and interacts with each of these neighbors. He is an active, social member of his neighborhood.
My neighborhood isn’t the same as Elmo’s, it’s a little more complex. It’s multi-feathered so to speak. It consists of artists, etsy, photographers, marketers, online forums and quality service providers. Through being an aware and active member of my neighborhood I’ve seen creative works that sparked marketing ideas for my business, collaborated with others to create content and learned new processes that I plan to integrate into my own systems of operation. I don’t necessarily have to actively interact with all my neighbors. Just by being aware of them and their work sparks new creative ideas as well as spotting consumer trends. It also teaches me the best way to approach each individual neighbor when I see someplace I can help. Not everyone likes to be approached the same way. Some are write out the proposal formal, while others are lets grab coffee social – it depends on the neighbor.
While it’s true the saying “Birds of a feather flock together.” You’ll notice I said my neighborhood was multi-feathered. Pay attention – this is important! When we refuse to let new and different people into our neighborhood our information and learning get stale. We can no longer grow and progress past where we currently are. We’ve all seen businesses or people like this. They’ve been so busy diligently working with their heads down, that when they do finally look up, they have no idea what road they are on let alone neighborhood! Their whole world washed away when they weren’t looking. Pick your head up and take a look around. Who are the people in your neighborhood?