Guernsey needs to establish an independent identity from the UK, according to the island's advisor on European Union matters.
Alastair Sutton said one of the island's problems was being perceived as an integral part of the UK and not a separate entity with its own agenda.
He said: "It's a big task for a small jurisdiction to do."
Mr Sutton also said Guernsey could not rely solely on the finance industry to bolster its economy.
He said the island should consider other industries and use its adaptability and resilience to do so.
Mr Sutton said: "I imagine 30 years ago there were people who thought that Guernsey's exports of tomatoes and flowers would continue forever and that would be the mainstay of the island economy.
"I can't personally see that Guernsey's ingenuity in adapting to different products, different sectors in the financial sector broadly speaking will run out in the foreseeable future.
"Guernsey has shown itself to be extremely resilient over the last 20 or 30 years and built up a formidable client base around the world.
He said: "One of the challenges for Guernsey and Jersey is to improve the understanding of who they are, what they are, what the industries are that make them tick, what constitutional relationship they have with the UK, how they relate to the EU and what they want to do in the future."
Mr Sutton was an official of the European Commission from 1973 until 1989 and since then has acted as the advisor on European law and policy for Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.