When less leads to more — Refining your niche through increased focus
Successful entrepreneurs have an unquenchable need to build–products, services, relationships, businesses.. The opportunity to innovate feels magical. New opportunities show up everywhere.
As the founder of your own business, how do you decide which opportunities to chase and which ones to put on pause?
Rapid opportunity spotting has some unpleasant side effects. While we’re zipping around at high speed–from one idea to the next–our team members get whiplash. Take notice. Does anyone on the team have that unmistakable “deer in the headlights” look? Listen for the confused whispers of “Where are we going today?” or “What am I supposed to be working on now?”
Say hello to the founder’s nemesis-diluted focus.
Diluted focus affects everyone in a founder’s orbit
When a founder’s focus is diluted, the knock-on effect is that nothing really gets the attention it needs to be successful. The implication for everybody in that founder’s orbit is confusion. People bounce around from project to project and task to task. Nobody ever really gets a chance to get great at what they’re doing because there’s a constant lack of clarity or consistent practice.
Narrowing focus multiplies opportunities
Why is it so much harder saying no to opportunities than it is saying yes? Our internal wiring tells us that by closing doors we’re closing opportunities. In reality, by narrowing our focus, we multiply opportunities.
Has your business performance dipped? Can you trace it back to a lack of focus? By realigning your focus and communicating clearly with team members, you can course correct in real-time.
So how can you–as lateral thinking, opportunity spotting founder–be more intentional about focus? Pay close attention and…
1 — Follow the money
Not every exciting idea or new venture is bankable. In fact, some of the most successful companies are also some of the most “boring” companies. They’ve found what people are both willing and ready to pay for because they see value in it. From there it’s rinse and repeat. Where is the money flowing in your marketplace? Where are your clients recognising value?
2 — Listen to advisors and team members
Your role as a founder is to engage with people and explore exciting possibilities. Objectively sorting through it all can be a challenge. Potential ventures often get coloured by your own emotions and the energy of a conversation. Inviting input from trusted sources can help you get out of your own head and hone your focus.
Advisors tend to take a much more pragmatic approach, stripping out the emotion and illuminating potential blindspots. When you believe your own hype, an advisor has the courage to tactfully call BS.
The team is also uniquely positioned to provide insights and fresh perspectives. Often team members are closer to the day-to-day delivery of value. They’re interacting with clients, hearing what clients are asking for, and seeing the patterns in their day-to-day work. Who are the advisors and team members around you? What are they saying?
3 — Articulate your focus
In one or two sentences, can you clearly tell people what’s in and what’s out? If not, go back and experiment. Get writing, thinking and talking until it makes sense.
In all the work I do with founders, coming up with new additions to a company’s strategy is easy. Saying no, and taking things out of the strategy is far more challenging–and is necessary for staying focused.
Focus requires confidence
I’ve run my business for over a decade now. Every time I’ve narrowed my focus and clarified my niche the business has become more successful and impactful. It sounds simple, but saying no takes confidence and courage.
At one stage we had eight clearly articulated areas of focus for our small organization. We’ve since narrowed that down to three very closely linked things in support of clients in the climate-change and sustainability space. People know what we stand for, what makes sense for us, and where to introduce us.
Heading into a new year is a natural time to pause and reflect. What is it specifically that your business wants to stand for and be known for this year? And more importantly, what is it that you want people to know you’re not?
If you’re realigning focus, what are you finding refreshing about the process? What are you struggling with? Let’s connect and chat. I’d love to hear about your experiences.
I help Founder CEOs of companies between 5 & 40 people who are experiencing early stage success and ready to scale — especially those wanting to build shared responsibility and accountability within their team. Click here to get your free copy of the 5 principles and 6 leadership roles for scaling a sustainable, prosperous company.