Is Tunnel Vision Stifling Your Business?
Small Business Marketing Tip

Today's small business marketing tip tackles tunnel vision, a killer of business. Although also a medical condition, it is commonly understood as a metaphor for narrowness of focus that causes a failure to see the big picture.

Acting with "blinders on" is another way of expressing tunnel vision. A horse wears blinders, those small strips of leather next to its eyes, to keep it from getting distracted.

But horses don't run businesses, and a manager who operates with tunnel vision or with blinders on can ruin a company by concentrating on a narrow view of reality, ignoring both risks and opportunities.

Tunnel vision gives a false sense of calm, because all distractions are blocked out. A manager with this problem often doesn't realize that he has one, and concentrates his view on a project to the exclusion of the warning signs, not to mention missing exciting possibilities.

The metaphor of tunnel vision is often combined with the metaphor that the light at the end of a tunnel is an oncoming train. So, use this small business marketing tip to recognize ...

How to Recognize if Tunnel Vision is Stifling Your Business

Managers should be alert to warning signs that tunnel vision is hampering the goals of a business. Here are a few telltale signs that you should widen your view:

    1. "It's worked for years, so why should we change it now?" If tunnel vision had an anthem, this would be it. It's a badge of honor worn by afflicted managers.

    2. Your technology is years old. There were companies who held on to the good old MSDOS operating system when the advances of Windows and the Mac OS were transforming computing, and therefore they missed the productivity enhancing methods of these new systems.

    3. Company website. Every business should have a website, and most do. A manager with tunnel vision thinks a website is just an online brochure. A company that can't deliver its service on the web, such as a fitness business, can still make exciting use of the Internet with scheduling software, online payments and, most important, a constant source of new offerings and events. If you put up a website and forget it, you may be suffering from tunnel vision.

    4. Social media. A manager with tunnel vision thinks that Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin are only for socializing, and refuses to widen his view that these tools offer dynamic and exciting marketing and branding opportunities.

    5. Cash flow and profits are being squeezed. If you operate with tunnel vision you probably focus on in-house procedures. If you expand your view you might notice that a new competitor is on the scene- and is eating your lunch. But now since you are using this small business marketing tip to take off those blinders, cash flow will increase.

    6. Employee productivity is falling. A narrow focus can hide a modern reality: new generations, including groups knows as Gen x, Gen y and Millennials do not respond to the old systems of rewards and punishments. With tunnel vision you simply use incentive programs that may have worked 40 or 50 years ago, but not now.

    7. Company communications are not working. You expect employees in the field to contact the office to give status reports and updates. With tunnel vision you never thought of providing all key employees with company paid Smartphones to enable them to have all critical information in their pockets.

This small business marketing tip has alerted you that tunnel vision can stifle your business, if not destroy it. Is it affecting YOU? Tell your story below.

Frank writes for a number of issues effecting today's business environment from human resources to flexible benefit solutions. Read his most recent publication on finance for entrepreneurs.

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