Sounding board: a person or group on whom one tries out an idea or opinion as a means of evaluating it
As a solo or semi-solo entrepreneur (my business partner is my husband), I have found that one of the most important things to have is a sounding board for my ideas. My husband and I are fortunate that we have each other to bounce ideas off of, but sometimes we need to seek out other people and solicit other perspectives.
Photographers are independent creatures. Take me for example; I’ve spent a great part of my life observing people and capturing the moments. Even though I refer to myself as a “people photographer”, being a street shooter can be a solitary activity. It’s easy to get accustomed to a lone lifestyle as a photographer, but I find that when it comes down to making decisions about promoting and marketing my business, I’m far better off to seek an outside perspective.
I’m lucky that I have people in my life that I can call on from time to time and bounce ideas around. I need to know if an idea that I think is going to rock the world, isn’t totally wacky or off kilter. Essentially, these folks are my sounding board. If you are stuck, or have been ignoring the ideas that come to you because you lack the confidence in them, consider reaching out to a sounding board of your own.
- Solicit opinions from your colleagues; pick people who will give you their honest thoughts.
- Seek opinions from the folks who you are targeting in your marketing – the people who will buy your services.
- Test your ideas – it’s easy these days with social media. But go to the platforms that you trust. For example: when I am creating a trailer or a new reel, I’ll upload it to my Vimeo account, because I know I will get valuable feedback from my peers.
- Remember, people are busy so build in extra time for them to respond when you ask them for their feedback. If you don’t hear from them in a reasonable amount of time or not at all – move on. Maybe they’re not good contenders for your sounding board.
- Reach out to different demographics – gender, age, socio-economic – depending on what you are working on and the message you want to deliver.
- Even though it can be intimidating, seek the opinion of a pro.
- Seek out different people for different types of advice. I frequently ask my daughter’s opinion on music soundtrack choices. Music has been a big part of her life and she’s knowledgeable and savvy in that area.
- Remember, at the end of the day, it’s your job to sort through all the opinions and suggestions and take away what you choose. The worst thing you can do is to try to incorporate everyone’s ideas because you’ll end up with something that’s neither here – nor there.