How entrepreneurs should handle tunnel vision

Tunnel vision is a challenge for most startup owners. Listening, avoiding micromanagement, closing the feedback loop and self-awareness can help overcome this issue.
Written by Srinivas Kulkarni, Contributor

According to James Allen, a British philosophical writer known for his inspirational and self-help books, "your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be".

Listening, avoiding micromanagement, closing the feedback loop and self-awareness can help overcome tunnel vision.

This can be applied to entrepreneurship, where the "you" refers to how the startup or venture will manifest into something beyond who he or she is. However, the problem is that entrepreneurs often lack to see beyond their own ideas, thoughts and philosophies. Does this happen often to many entrepreneurs? Oh you bet!

Tunnel vision is specifically the limited vision, as in seeing only their own point of view. Generally a condition many entrepreneurs can have where they are so gung ho and convinced about their business strategy that they miss out on the investors point of view or advice from other employees, partners because they "know" their idea is the best, while in reality it isn't so. 

But how do these things come into existence? How should entrepreneurs go about finding and fixing this problem if they ever come across it? Here are a few tips:

Listening and responding

I'm not saying that he or she should get influenced by others and do something which completely detracts from original plans. A best judge of an entrepreneur's tunnel vision would be how much others are involved in working with them; be it the VC, their employees, partners and others. Interact one-one on a personal basis with your stakeholders, employees, customers and listen to what they are saying. 

Focus, but don't micromanage

At the end of the day, while the founder might own the company, the real success comes from empowering team members to do what can't be done alone. The trick there lies in finding the right people who won't need any push and have a sense of ownership that they'll take along with them. For example, finding that intrapreneur, who'll take it on upon himself/herself to be the face of your startup. Well, certainly the regular reviews and the growth hacking discussions are always required, but when it comes to the functional aspects of it all, instil a sense of ownership among staff which will push them to build the same dream.

As rightly mentioned by Krish Subramanian, co-founder and CEO of Chargebee, it's a team sport. "In my view entrepreneurship is a team sport. There must be guys who need the tunnel vision to 'execute' relentlessly. Then there should be another one who helps course correction. The challenge is in understanding strengths, roles & doing well."

Disguise the king in you amongst the crowd

There are stories where kings used to dress as commoners to go undercover and examine their vast enterprise. Of course, with the help of monitoring and online reputation management tools, there's an easy access to such kind of feedback but try to find avenues and forums where people do discuss your product, your startup, your enterprise and find the right kind of people to tap into that feedback. You'd be amazed at what kind of insights you will come across. 

Don't just update, but upgrade yourself

Well, you're in the midst of a lot of things, the thick and thin of all and everything and it is quite difficult sometimes for you to keep an eye on the dynamic changes happening in the industry, field, sector and overall startup world around you. You might realize that the way consumer behavior is changing quickly, there might be some features that may end up being obsolete and completely out of context, when it comes to your product. 
According to Nameet Potnis, founder of SellMojo, it's important to always keep the bigger picture in mind. "Being a part of the tech ecosystem, it's easy to focus on everything tech including reading tech media. I find that having short term as well as long term goals helps in always keeping the bigger picture in mind," he said.

Get out of your cubicle

While entrepreneurs who have smaller teams don't really need to worry about this aspect, once you've scaled up, there's always this fear of isolating yourself from the rest of your own startup world that you've created. Yes, there are the review meetings, the additional funding aspects that you have to keep in mind, focusing on shipping would increase all the more than before, but it always helps for entrepreneurs to get out of their cubicles once in a while and step on to the shop floor. Maybe have a brainstorming session over pizza and coffee or just a simple open house to address their concerns and issues. 

These were some aspects that I think are key to reduce the possibilities of you facing the problems of tunnel vision as an entrepreneur and I'm sure a lot of these things are at the back of your mind as an entrepreneur but the key is in driving it home and actually getting around them. What do you think?

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