One of my favorite writers is Seth Godin. He has a way of framing brilliantly simple concepts in a succinct way that makes you go, “Why didn’t I think of that??”
One of his blogs last week was Cracking the Pottery. He talked about how we need to be able to let go of what’s not working for us, even if we’ve invested a lot of time/money/energy in it, so that we can be free to work on what IS working.
This is a conundrum that most entrepreneurs face for these reasons:
- We have ideas to fix the world swirling in our head 24/7.
- We are eternal optimists and super-hard workers. We often believe as Napoleon Hill taught us that we really are just “Three Feet From Gold.” As I’ve mentioned before, it’s hard to see the entire picture when we are in the frame. We often have a hard time seeing what’s wrong with what we are building.
- Some of us have big egos, and to admit that something’s not working, well…that’s really hard for us.
I shared Seth’s blog with my Mastermind Group, because we have all struggled with this problem. In turn, another member shared an article on F.O.C.U.S. In the blog, FOCUS stands for Follow One Course Until Success. This really resonated with me because entrepreneurs are notorious for:
- Spinning multiple plates at one time, and
- Losing focus on an idea before we’ve taken it to completion.
I expanded upon the idea of F.O.C.U.S. to this: Follow One Core Competency Until Success. Another habit that entrepreneurs have is to adopt non-core competencies on their way to building a core competency.
Perhaps a design firm sees the growth potential in the mobile application development market, and wants to cash in on it. Rather than working to be the best web design company ever, they begin to dilute their brand and resources to catch a piece of another market. Or, perhaps a consulting company provides services to one or two core vertical markets, but spots competitors working in other markets, and wants a piece. They slowly start to shift energy into a market where they have no traction, while losing hard-earned ground in their current space. Both of these scenarios can jeopardize a precision-focused brand effort.
Finally, as entrepreneurs build their businesses, they will of course have to complete essential tasks that are unrelated to their core competency. In an effort to “save money,” they will take on these tasks themselves.
For example, a company just breaking into the government sector may want to pursue a GSA schedule. It’s A LOT more efficient to outsource this to an expert who has the processes, knowledge, and interest to do it well, instead of investing valuable time (which could be spent on business development) to do it internally. This goes for virtually any administrative task… IT, finance, HR, etc. The cost for a small business to bring these tasks in house with full-time employees far outweighs the benefits. And, there are so many companies now that focus on providing a single administrative solution for small businesses. There is a significant opportunity cost associated with directing resources to a need that doesn’t align with a core competency.
- Have the open-mindedness to consider ditching what isn’t working, so you can pivot time, energy, and resources to what is working, and what the market needs today.
- Stay true to your core competency. Leave the “low hanging fruit” to other firms that live and breathe a particular business model, rather than adding it on to what you do well, and what you really love.
- Strive for a lean business model. Outsource the functions that are essential to your business operations but that you don’t do well, and are totally unrelated to your core competency. By keeping headcount low, you minimize the danger of high overhead, which can sink a company in a downturn.