On my quest to be the best “Missionpreneur Mentor” I can be, I am constantly searching for what I refer to as the “hypotenuse solution” in all areas of business for myself and others. If you remember anything from high school geometry, the hypotenuse is the shortest distance in a right triangle–well I do that with business as in life.
As a Missionpreneur, my bright idea for a hypotenuse solution was to apply to a couple of startup accelerator programs for a startup I have been “starting up” for several years and now trying to revive. The thing is, I’m also running my own agency and involved in a few other ventures and charitable projects. You could say my attention is divided, and the startup is possibly the last on the priority list. Plus the startup itself is in the process of reinvention, so there is no clearly defined business model. Not surprisingly, my startup didn’t get chosen for any of the programs I applied to.
At the same time, a close friend applied to a few accelerators and got chosen for one and is interviewing for another. These accelerators are extremely competitive, with over one thousand applicants for each. The fact his business got chosen as one of five teams out of over a thousand is a real accomplishment in and of itself. Not to mention the proverbial door-opening to resources, education, collaboration and of course, potential investor funding.
When I assess the difference between our two scenarios with respect to our startups, it comes down to FOCUS. Firstly, as the CEO of his startup, my friend focuses most of his time and attention on building that business, even though he is also a consultant who earns additional income outside of the startup. Secondly, that business itself has a very focused, clear and specific brand and mission; it’s not trying to do or be everything to everyone, although there is potential for future expansion. Thirdly, he made the accelerator application process a priority because he knew that this opportunity was the best way to accelerate and potentially skyrocket his business, revenue and investment potential quickly. He just knew he was going to get accepted to one of the programs, and although it was still a highly stressful process wrought with frustration and doubts, he never gave up until he made it. This inspires me as an entrepreneur.
It got me thinking about the founding of other startups that are now billion dollar businesses–Facebook, Airbnb, Apple, Lyft–and how their focused attention on one key product or service has helped them grow and scale and make a bigger impact on close to a billion people (or nearly two billion as of today in the case of Facebook). Or look at iconic brands with one key product such as Kleenex, Nike and Jacuzzi that still exist today and still lead the market and industry in brand recognition.
At the same time, there are some so-called impact aggregators with a huge mission to impact billions of people; their mission is inspiring and they are trying to find global solutions in many different areas. But instead they are so unfocused, scattered in their attention, chasing after several bright, shiny objects in multiple categories, that they are not quite making the big impact in any one area that they desire. In fact, I have a friend who is an industry expert and thought leader who works at one of these impact businesses and flat out told me in her professional opinion I would make a greater impact working at Facebook. Sure, none of the aforementioned businesses are perfect and their paths have certainly never been “easy”, but in terms of impact, FOCUS was a stronger strategy than trying to be everything to everyone.
How can you apply this to your career/business? Follow these three steps:
- What is your one big business goal or dream? Define that and make sure you are devoting most of your time and attention on this. If you can’t do that for any reason, then it shouldn’t be a surprise if you’re not progressing as well as you’d like in that venture.
- Does your career/business have a clear, focused mission, brand, business model and key service/product? If not, do an analysis of what is working and what isn’t working. Be as specific as possible, and focus your business and messaging on what works and transition out of what doesn’t.
- Prioritize opportunities to accelerate your impact. Now that you’re focused on a venture that has a clear and specific brand and business model, you will more clearly see the opportunities that will skyrocket your business. Seek those opportunities and believe they are possible. You may even have clients and investors seeking you out! [As it turns out, one of the principals of the accelerator that accepted my friend actually found his startup on AngelList, a site focused on resources for startups!]
How has Focus or lack of focus helped or hurt your business? Is there a step I’m missing? Feel free to add your comments below. And remember, when in doubt:
Focus on Focus!
P.S. – Also if you need help focusing and clarifying your mission, brand and business, we can help! We offer full day or half day Mission M.A.P. sessions or Strategy Programs to get you to clear and stand out in your industry and attract your ideal clients.