8 November 2017

Lawrence Jones MBE entrepreneur business advice“Don’t read everything that you believe.”

As a creative at heart, this line really caught my attention. It’s the Times’ and Sunday Times’ latest marketing strapline.

Whilst we’ve all heard the phrase ‘don’t believe everything you read’, the Times’ twist on that really got me thinking; at a time when fake news has seemingly taken over the media, how do we find the actual news? Are we becoming closed off to new information, advice and ideas?

I watched a TED Talk a while ago that touched on this. We have so many tools to curate information and media now, that we are creating our own individual realities, rather than having one common truth that we all know and believe. It’s a great watch that you can find on the TED website.

Similarly, what the Times’ line is pushing is the papers’ wide range of opinions – different voices with their own different truths and advice. This is also worth noting in business. How big is your network? From where do you receive advice? What are you doing to broaden your horizons?

Advice doesn’t only come from one place

Often we become entrenched in a particular way of doing things. We’re surrounded by people who we rely on to give us the same ideas and we end up with that business-destroying phrase – ‘But that’s the way we’ve always done it here.’

It’s all too easy to filter out the information that we receive. We could well be filtering valuable information that could transform our business. It’s absolutely essential to get feedback from as many sources as possible. To hear from as many voices and learn from as many different businesses and business leaders that you can.

When I first started out in business, I was hungry to meet as many people as I could; to build a network and make friends. Yet, further down the line, I became almost stubborn in what I knew and I began to limit the advice that I took in. We all fall foul of thinking we know best!

Nowadays, I learn something new from every single person who I meet; from the florist in the Northern Quarter where I bought my daughter a cactus to add to her collection, to the head of a multi-million pound firm. We’re currently working on a product line at UKFast that could revolutionise the way an area of the business works. It could easily spin into a business in its own right. The idea for this came from one of our young apprentices. In some businesses, as he is so young and new to the working world, his ideas could easily have been dismissed.

Seeing the newspaper’s new marketing message this morning was a great reminder not to fall back into that old habit, instead to always be open to new information and seek out fresh perspectives.

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