Entrepreneurs are passionate people. They are brilliant. They are brimming with creative energy and powerful ideas. These character traits are what energize an entrepreneur's business, inspire others, and turn a profit
But these traits, valuable as they are, have a dangerous sharp edge.
Passion can turn into multipassion. Brilliance can turn into burnout. Creative energy can drift into distraction. Powerful ideas can be pushed aside for the next burst of an even better idea.
These symptoms share a common diagnosis: Lack of focus.
The Entrepreneur's Pitfall: Lack of Focus
In spite of the entrepreneur’s visionary prowess and potential genius, there can lurk a lack of focus that will destroy even the best intentions.
If you're an entrepreneur, perhaps you've felt the tug of distraction, but haven't understood what it was or how it was affecting you.
- You have "so many business" ideas, but haven't started a single one? That's lack of focus.
- You have not one, not two, but 16 brilliant marketing plans, and tried to pull off all of them. They worked only marginally well. Lack of focus again.
- You have six Evernote documents outlining a product to sell or a business to start. You just don't have a plan yet. You're unfocused.
- You try to add tons of new features to your product, but it ends up hurting the product. You're not focused.
- You want to market your product to, well, to everyone! No focus.
- You start each day with so much stuff to do, but ironically, have no idea what to start on first. Naturally, you start with email. The day goes downhill from there. That is Exhibit A of someone with very little focus.
These are all the surface symptoms of a lack of focus. More symptoms can emerge as the entrepreneur fights his way forward. The unfocused approach turns into discouragement, depression, anxiety, and eventually a prolonged fight with failure.
The unfocused entrepreneur is on a fast track to destroying his or her business.
But to flip it around, the unfocused entrepreneur is a billion dollar business waiting to happen. By flipping the focus switch to "on," any entrepreneur can revolutionize his business.
A laser-like focus on what truly matters can turn any distracted entrepreneur into a million-dollar machine.
Obviously, there's no "focus" switch, much less a way to flip it "on." What's the path to clarity?
Fixing the Lack of Focus
Act on the One Thing principle.
What's the one thing that you need to do right now? If you want to be successful, you're going to have to decide on that one thing and do it.
Gary Keller in his book The One Thing explains the principle this way: "What's the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"
Write it down. That's your plan for today. You're allowed to have as many someday goals as you want, but for today, you need to work on just one thing.
Keller goes on to put a point on it
At any moment in time there can be only ONE Thing, and when that ONE Thing is in line with your purpose and sits atop your priorities, it ill be the most productive thing you can do to launch you toward the best you can be.
This simple principle can help you to drop the distracted baggage that you're carrying around, and free you to pursue a single profitable action.
Commit to strategy.
It's promising, but can the one thing principle really revolutionize your life and eliminate your lack of focus? Not by itself it can't.
You need to know what to focus on. Simply doing is not effective. Staying busy is not inherently good. What if you're doing the wrong things?
I suggest that you focus on strategy. An entrepreneur can do a lot of things, and she can do a lot of things really well.
But your job is not to do everyone's job. Your job is to help others do their job better. The most productive way to do that is to create a strategy that will propel your business to the top.
A business strategy is by itself a focused endeavor. In order to form a strategy, you must isolate your end goal, an objective. Then, you must define the path to get there.
Your strategy becomes your "one thing" task list. Once you have your strategy, you know exactly what you should be achieving on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
Eliminate your second-guessing by setting time frames.
"What if" kills focus:
- "What if we try this strategy instead?"
- "What if we shift to a different market?"
- "What if we add this feature to our product?"
On the one hand, a well-placed what if could be the shift the pushes your business in the right direction. Unfortunately, more often than not, a what if is the jerk of the rudder that pushes you off course. Too many what ifs will send you zig-zagging across the uncharted seas of entrepreneurship. You're going nowhere.
It's time to reduce your second-guessing. Instead of flitting from one good idea to another, follow this path:
- Write down all your ideas or what-ifs. Maybe it's a series of marketing strategies, a variety of target markets, new features for your product, etc. Put them in a list.
- Pick the one that you think is the best.
- Commit to putting the one idea in play for six months to a year. Set a hard-and-fast time frame on it. Make sure that you have time to actually qualify that idea. If it fails, it fails. Mark it off your list. At least you know. No more what-ifs.
You can remain focused on one thing at a time instead of guaranteeing your failure by abandoning ideas before they have time to come to fruition.
Finally, once you're emerging into a single-minded and focused entrepreneur, it's time to put icing on the cake.
Test your ideas. Don't be content to merely be focused. Be focused on the right things. The way to distinguish the good from the best is to test.
Test your strategy, test your website, test your emails, test your market, test your headlines, test your social media strategy. Test, test, test, and failure will fade into the background.
Lack of focus can be costing you dearly. When you fix your lack of focus, however, you're ready to coast into a new phase of business and entrepreneurship.
Have you struggled with lack of focus? What did you do?
Gaining focus is a mental game. It requires you to work hard to break bad habits and build new ones.
The work is worth it. The payoff of a focused mind can be worth millions for you and your business.
How has a lack of focus affected you?