Many entrepreneurs, including myself, think big – really big. Everyone has ideas and some of them are actually quite good but usually they’re too big and broad to actually execute. If you’re serious about building a great business, you’ll need to be incredibly focused to make it happen. Otherwise, your idea will never have a chance of leaving that cocktail napkin. From my experience, the only way you’ll actually get going is by taking many small steps to stay focused. These steps, one by one, will collectively build your foundation for a successful business. Save the world but start by fixing your neighborhood.
I recently had a conversation with a very inspiring and successful serial entrepreneur – the real deal - Eric Kuhn, who echoed my sentiments about staying focused. He founded Varsity Books which he took public and most recently launched FoundersCard, a members only community for leading entrepreneurs and innovators. (I joined and love the perks like free inflight wireless on American Airlines.) I naturally asked what was his secret sauce for staying focused in helping FoundersCard achieve success. Here’s what he had to say:
1. Niche Market? Focus on a segment of customers and build a product that is exceptionally valuable and relevant to them. Don’t get distracted by trying to be too big too fast. After you succeed in accomplishing success in your initial market, you will be much better positioned to grow beyond that initial market.
2. Lean Startup? Cash will always be king. Communicate spending priorities and make sure everyone on your team spends the company’s money as if it is theirs. Regardless of how much money is in the company’s bank account, intelligent and thoughtful spending leads to a healthier and more productive company.
3. Ditch the Outdated Business Plan. Don’t be hostage to the original business plan after you raise the money. It’s irresponsible to execute on a plan that is outdated. Constantly incorporate new insights from customer feedback to write plans that cover smaller increments of time. I use a three month plan to account for the ever-changing nature of a new business. Put the original business plan on the shelf and bring it out five years later. You’ll get quite a laugh.
Hopefully, these tips can help you in building your own business or taking it to the next level. Feel free to share your own tips for staying focused.