Value of a Sounding Board

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Do you have a close friend or colleague that you bounce all your ideas off of? A coach that helps you refine your initial ideas into viable plans? A spouse or loved one that will give you some brutal feedback?  

There is great value in having people around you to act as a sounding board. People that are willing to give honest feedback as to whether your idea makes sense or not. Sometimes as we get lost in our thoughts, we think an idea is “the greatest idea ever”, but when we have to explain it out loud to someone else, we realize the flaws and the pitfalls. 

Talking through your ideas gives you additional perspective and clarity of what it is you want to build or do. Having to voice those ideas to someone else also forces you to be concise as to your plan and the end goals you hope to achieve.  

The added bonus is that this other individual will give you feedback. Those comments may propel you to design something even better, or sometimes persuade you that your idea doesn’t have as much merit as you thought!

While family and loved ones are great for some projects, it is important to surround yourself with high caliber individuals who can give you feedback based on their own experiences and their knowledge in the business world.

Here are some tips for finding and asking other individuals to help you brainstorm through your business ideas.

  1. Hire a coach. This person is invested in helping you be the best you can be and giving solid feedback so you can take action.

  2. Talk with the mentor. Along your journey, many individuals have indicated they are willing to help you. Think back to individuals who have offered their support in the past and reach out and ask them if they have some time to help you work through a new idea you were considering.

  3. Reach out to a guru in a specific area. Ask if you can buy them a cup of coffee and get some feedback.  

Now too many cooks in the kitchen can create a mess, so pick wisely and use your sounding boards sparingly so as not to overstep your welcome.

Once you have one or two sounding boards, here are some steps to get the most of the process:  

  • Prep Wisely for Your Meeting: Prepare some notes so you can stay on track and be concise in your presentation.

  • Control the Meeting: You’ll always want to set an agenda at the beginning of the conversation so the listener has a framework to understand what you would like to accomplish. That agenda could be as simple as asking if you can propose an agenda and when they say yes propose to A) lay out your new idea, B) get their feedback and C) get their help and formulate an action plan. This way the listener knows to anticipate giving feedback and helping you with steps of how you can move forward.

  • Plan Your Follow-Up to the Meeting: Equally as important as the prep for the meeting, is making sure you take the time to thank the person for helping enrich your life. A handwritten notecard in blue ink with a real stamp can speak volumes more than just a simple email or a verbal thank you. You don’t have to send flowers or candy, a simple card will do, but take the time to think that person.

Successful entrepreneurs love to help other ambitious entrepreneurs grow. Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help. The worst that can happen is that they say they don’t have the time or even a simple “no”. So, stop dreaming about it and share your ideas with someone who can act as a true sounding board so you can gain that clarity, uplevel your business, and thrive. 

“Surround yourself with great people.” Warren Buffet.

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