There is so much to do in a startup. Day in, day out, over a long, long period of time. And just because there’s so much to be done, a danger is ending up running around like a headless chicken.
There’s so much written about the importance of focus for startups. Do one thing and do it well. Focus on your core business and outsource everything else. My colleagues from Sirris dedicated a whole chapter in their book to the “The Art of Focusing”.
But it’s easier said than done. There are so many things you simply must do. How do you choose between drafting up an urgent partnership contract, supporting your customer, and preparing tomorrow’s sales meeting?
In an early phase, when many things are still open and everything needs to be done, it seems even worse (although it really isn’t). So what do people do about it?
- Join a program. In Brussels we have Founder Institute and MIC Boostcamp. They break down the startup process into a series of malleable steps. You build your startup by following a prescribed process.
- Ask mentors for advice. Experienced people are good at seeing through your idea and judging your strategy in minutes. They are able to see the most gaping holes in your business model, and tell you what you need to solve first.
- Focus on the riskiest part of your business model first. In his post on startup risk prioritization, Ash Maurya even gives you a hint: start from (1) the problem, (2) channels, and (3) revenue
Nice. I did all three. And then messy reality kicks in. One mentor says do product, and he’s right, the other points to holes in the revenue model, also rightly, the program wants me to think about branding… And I guess I will simply have to do everything, and that’s my reality.
So as important the focus is, I’ll leave you with a couple of thoughts on that:
- Do focus, but do not loose sight of the bigger picture. Take a step back often to gauge where you are. Don’t miss opportunities, just because of the strategy du jour. Things change rapidly in a startup, and you need to follow up.
- Focus AND do all the things you must do. Find balance, and let go of perfectionism. Do stuff good enough, and move on.
- Watch out for bias: when setting the focus, we are good at distorting reality and avoiding what’s out of our comfort zone. That’s why is good to often do reality checks with experienced entrepreneurs and mentors.
To stop just below 500 words: I would really love to know, how do you set your focus?