One of the most common word that I come across, especially when discussing with an entrepreneur or a start-up firm, is “FOCUS”. I must admit that it is one of the most confused words among the start-up fraternity, often getting confused to concentration, limitation, necessity, and understanding etc. Most of the misunderstanding arises on account of difference in an individual’s frame of reference. It’s like holding an Umbrella- you can use it as much against the sunshine as rain, but an individual will define its usage based on his/her usability. It is important to qualify your Mentor/Adviser/Consultant before taking a feedback about any aspect of your business. Just having years of experience is no guarantee for right advice as, even though similar in various aspects, there’s a huge difference between flying a fighter jet and a commercial plane. Let me share a story to make it more lucid.
A heart surgeon took his car to his local garage for a regular service, where he usually exchanged a little friendly banter with the owner, a skilled but not especially wealthy mechanic.
“So tell me,” says the mechanic, “I’ve been wondering about what we both do for a living, and how much more you get paid than me.”
“Yes?” says the surgeon.
“Well look at this,” says the mechanic, as he worked on a big complicated engine, “I check how it’s running, open it up, fix the valves, and put it all back together so it works good as new.. We basically do the same job don’t we? And yet you are paid ten times what I am – how do you explain that?”
The surgeon thought for a moment, and smiling gently, replied, “Try it with the engine running.”
Having read the story, let’s bring back our focus to the original purpose of the blog and discuss some of the common myths that people often suggest in the name of “Focus”.
: Myth 1: You’re offering too many services: This is the most common advice, free of cost and irrespective of experience and expertise, available in the market. Now, you can always quote about “Jack of all trades, master of none,” but then this is an era wherein you can easily find multi-skilled individuals. Not that any one individual could be skilled in everything but he/she could definitely be skilled in 2-3 things. Just see yourself, my dear reader, and ask this question. Don’t you find yourself skilled in more than one business area? Combine 3-4 such multi-skilled people and you get a portfolio of services. The basic premise is that you never offer too many services but the one you’re skilled in.
: Fact 1: We, at 366pi Consulting, often suggest our clients not to limit themselves in any aspect they are adequately skilled. If you know you can do 1, 2, 3, or any number of things then you don’t hesitate in doing those. Out there it’s like a battle field and your chance of survival is directly proportional to the diverse warfare skills you possess. If you don’t believe me, my dear reader, then ask a soldier to go to the battle field with guns but no bullets to realize what happens. There’s a reason why you find a soldier armored with a gun, a pistol, a knife, a bomb and many more things. The same is applicable to your business as well.
: Myth 2: Your business focus should be Sales: Another ubiquitous thing everyone speaks about is generating sales, commonly known as business development. The passion with which any start-up or entrepreneur speaks about client acquisition leaves me mesmerized each and every time. This isn’t your focus but the most basic requirement to survive. Yes, my dear friend, you’re simply confusing one of the mandatory requirement with focus.
: Fact 2: Sales or new client acquisition for a business is akin to the human’s requirement of oxygen. You can’t survive without that. But that can’t be your focus. As an entrepreneur or a start-up your focus should be on value, or growth, or understanding your customer rather than going out and sell anything or everything. There lies a huge trade-off between not investing in future growth and focusing on profitability or sales only. A soldier’s focus lies in winning the battle and not just reaching the battle field. The same applies to your business as well. Build your focus and you’ll find the sales following the same.
: Myth 3: You just need to raise an investment to be successful: Now, this is one advice that everyone talks about these days. Look like everyone is looking to raise an investment through whatever available sources, VC/Angel/PE etc. People will give you all those flimsy financial numbers to justify their fund requirement. One glance and you’ll realize that they are just the lucky numbers and nothing more. Seldom start-ups realize that the actual challenge starts after raising an investment. Just ask yourself the basis of your financial numbers and how do you plan to fuel your business growth through the raised amount?
: Fact 3: I personally have helped almost half-a-century clients raise investment through VCs or Angel Investors, to the tune of millions of dollar. I can say this with my experience that you’ll seldom find a start-up with justified requirement of funds. The humorous part lies when someone justifies the major chunk of fund going in as owner’s salary or compensation. I always ask my clients, if you’re so passionate about your business then why you, along with the core team, want to pocket the mammoth amount of capital in the name of salary? Do you think an investor is there to help you live a plush lifestyle without any actual focus on business? You don’t need just an investment to be successful, but you need the whole lot of planning and strategy and a sound business model to justify the usage of funds. Just because somebody got so and so amount doesn’t means that it should work as a benchmark for you as well.
: Myth 4: You just need to be passionate about your business: This could be contentious, my dear reader, but this actually is a tiring advice. It definitely sounds very sweet, but it takes commitment to succeed. There’s a thin margin between passion, hobby, interest and the actual commitment. Just because somebody is passionate about Guns doesn’t makes him a soldier. It requires commitment to convert oneself in to a real soldier.
: Fact 4: Just ask yourself what you actually were passionate about and what actually you are successful at? It isn’t because of lack of passion, you might be still singing, dancing, farming etc, but you were simply not committed to these. The same applies to your business as well. Passion made you start your business and now it requires your commitment to become a successful one. Always remember that a successful business hinges on a committed team and not necessarily on an experienced or large team.
: Myth 5: You just need to plan, plan and plan: A typical advice that every start-up or entrepreneur receives is about planning, planning and more planning.
: Fact 5: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is definitely a sound adage but then “If you just plan and plan, you are already doomed”. Try and avoid the trap of “paralysis of analysis” and know when it is time to “Execute” your plan. Planning definitely is an ongoing activity, but so is execution. It requires execution to understand what’s working and what’s back firing to re-plan the plan. Don’t just sit on the shore wondering the depth of the water, but plan it once and jump. You’ll never be too far to not able to return and re-plan. But you need to execute by jumping in the water.
There are various myths which we, at 366pi Consulting, will keep on bringing at your desk. Meanwhile, if you are a start-up or an entrepreneur looking for the mentor or limited co-founders, or a Small/Medium business looking for advisory on various business aspects or a fortune client seeking consultancy on some functional services, do feel free to reach us and get a quote.
And remember neither starting a business nor exiting it is easy. I read somewhere that ‘When setting up for the ideal golf shot, know which direction you want to hit the ball, but be sure to focus on the ball itself when taking your swing.’
Be focused on the focus and avoid focusing too much on focus. Thank You.