Feb 20 2013


These grain silos are about 4 miles from where I grew up in Burley, ID. For one of my high school dances, me and a few friends took our dates to the top. Cool, right? See the big bad city of Burley, unique, WAY different. Problem was: They’re grain silos. The dirt and dust up top was literally 16 inches thick. Add in some dudes wearing dark dress clothes, and some ladies wearing long dresses, and things got….how should I say? Powdery? But hey, I’m a farm boy, that’s what you get. ;)

Anyway, this post isn’t a chronology of my high school dates. Granted, that’d be so much better. But this is about Silos in respect to startups and entrepreneurship.

I’m in Starbucks in San Francisco as I write this. Why am I here? Well, I came out for The Small Business Web conference Tuesday and today. And then I’m meeting with other entrepreneurs in the broader eCommerce space and some investors and some potential customers. Why?

I think it’s critical for entrepreneurs to find ways to break out of their immediate surroundings.

The world’s a big place. You have an ongoing need to fill in blind spots, to gain external perspective, to understand related business models, to look for parallel disruptions, and to run your thinking past people way smarter with different experiences and frameworks than you.

So with a day and a half at a targeted conference and a couple handfuls of other meetings over 2 more days, and 4 days out of the office, I gain some critical and important insights that then I can dump into my brain, and the organization, and see what comes from it.

None of us are really recreating the wheel. Specifically to our problem/solution. And ESPECIALLY generic to startups and models and tactics.

But you have to get out of your office. Out of your city. Go to a targeted conference. Sometimes easiest place to meet if the place everyone is at. (crazy, I know) Decamp to a city for a week, and have it filled with meetings before you get there. Have some conversations with other entrepreneurs. With some investors (they see TONS of companies and trends). Talk with some competitors. If you’re really doing something disruptive, you are on the same team as them in fighting and changing the status quo. It’s not bad to know them and engage.

Break out of your Silo with some lean and mean and targeted travel! Added bonus? What do you have to do without all the normal life of home? Work! Work at the hotel. Work on the plane (I swear, lock me inside a giant aluminum flying tube of death, buckled into a tiny chair, with magical WIFI from the sky, and it seems I get more done on a 3 hour flight than I do in 3 weeks!). Hmmm… Maybe I need to rethink my treadmill desk. You will just plain get more done! :)

Make it something where you can add to their external thinking, and then gain from theirs.

It’s one of the most important things you should be doing as an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneur to Entrepreneur? Fly away, fly away, fly away. Airplanes = good. Silos = bad. They’re old and stale and dusty.

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