Thinking Outside the Box – Point/Counter-Point
If you have been in the business world for more than 10 minutes, you have probably heard the phrase, “think outside the box.” And when you heard it, it probably was in the context of how your business will be, or what you do for someone else’s business will be, more successful if instead of thinking like everyone else and doing what has been done before, you are unique and figure out a new way or path.
Well, there is no doubt that figuring out a new or unique approach, or plan, or product, or service, can sometimes lead to huge success. However, before thinking and then stepping outside the box, you need to understand the box, what stepping outside of it means, and if you going to be comfortable doing it. I could spend many pages writing about this, but here are a few quick points to think about.
1) It seems there are two main times when out of the box comes into play: in developing something completely new (product or service); or when a market is so crowded, you look for a new way to do something within the crowded market – this could be a new way to attract engaged couples to your service, a new service no one else is offering, etc. Thus, doing anything outside the box tends to require an elevated understanding of the potential market, usually a bit more research when planning it, and usually a bit more resources (time and/or money) than if you were doing more for your business, but still doing it within the box.
2) Even if you have a better understanding of the market, and have done a bit more research, thinking and then stepping outside the box is higher risk, offset with the potential for higher reward. However, not everyone is cut out to take the plunge, to deal with the stress while trying, and to accept failure if it comes. Also, if you have others who are helping you, you also have to consider if they are ready to be risky and will there be full support (not blame) when things are tough. Inside the box, things are easier to plan and implement, and thus life is a bit more comfortable.
3) Outside the box can become inside the box quickly, based on the barriers to entry (or lack thereof) of whatever you are doing. If you are going to be the first to try something, make sure it more than pays you back before it becomes the norm. If you figured that you will take small steps outside the box to test the water, know that your competitors are probably going to notice, and based on your success, or perceived success, some of them will probably follow – and quicker than you would hope.
Thinking and then stepping outside the box can be a tricky thing, but if you have an idea, have done the research to feel comfortable that it will work, and you can handle the risk, go for it!