Whenever I find myself at a critical business juncture, I "get out of the building," not literally, especially during COVID, but in the spirit of stepping out of my element.

Get out of the building

I’ve done over 20 coaching calls in the past three weeks. While the topics of each call varied, one piece of advice came up more than any other.

The advice applied whether I was coaching someone just starting out or someone who already had a thriving business.

This advice is my go-to when it comes to getting clarity and confidence about business strategy, both for myself and my clients.

It’s a treasure trove of inspiration and validation.

It’s a simple piece of advice, and yet so many overlook it.

In the words of renowned entrepreneur and author, Steven Blank.

Get out of the building.

In other words, get out and have in-depth conversations with your intended market in which you ask them meaningful questions about their experience.

Making key decisions about messaging, product development or strategy without these conversations is an opportunity missed at best and, more likely, a critical misstep at worst.

“But Jason, I just surveyed my list last month.”

Great! That’s an excellent first step but not enough on its own.

You simply won’t gain the needed insight by running surveys, reading forums, or relying on your own experience.

Whenever I feel stuck or find myself at a critical business juncture, I “get out of the building,” not literally, especially during COVID, but certainly in the spirit of stepping out of my element and connecting with those whom I want to serve with my business.

Don’t let the simplicity or seeming hindsight-obviousness of this advice belie its importance.

I’ll share more in the future about how to find the right people to talk to and ask the right questions. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to end up with bad data that will lead you down the wrong path.

The end goal of these conversations is not to directly ask them what they want and/or need, but rather to better understand their experience — past and present.

Note the language they use.

Take stock of their unmet needs.

Uncover their grandest desires.

Seek to understand their motivations.

I’ve said many times that empathy is the most important word in marketing and sales.

These customer discovery conversations are a powerful way to gain true empathy and translate it into a sound business strategy, one that you can execute on with clarity and confidence.