I’ll define surface area as your exposure to outside events and people. It can be good and bad. Exposure to more people brings more potential opportunity, more chances for luck, etc. But it has a downside. As your surface area increases more people are going to try to reach out to you because they want something from you. The list is potentially unending, but includes salespeople, troll lawsuits, charities, friends from high school who you’ve lost touch with and were never really friends in the first place, etc.
You have some control of your surface area. For instance don’t apply to the INC 5000 list unless you want tons of salespeople reaching out to you. If you sell to consumers or have a niche market the value of being on any sort of business list is almost definitely lower than the costs.
Same goes for being on a business podcast. I do them because I believe the SEO benefit I’ll get will outweigh the sales calls and mentor requests I’ll get from people who listen. This blog also helps me deflect some of the costs of my surface area. If someone asks me for advice I point them here. If a salesperson wants to learn about me and my business I send them here. I rarely hear back from any of them, but if I do hear back I’ll know if they read the posts. And now I know that this person has put some effort in, and maybe worth getting to know.
Another area that business owners have control over is how hard to push the gas. Sure you could try to spend a little more in advertising even though the return on ad spend decreases as you spend more. But keep in mind that you are increasing your surface area when you do this. You’ll have more customers and tire kickers, you’ll get more orders (less profitable orders), more customer service issues, more issues with your suppliers, etc.
Everyone wants something different out of their business. Be intentional about what you want, and then always keep in mind how what you want will affect your personal and your business’ surface area.