“I understand small business growth. I was one.” George W. Bush
Focus on Your Core Business – not extraneous bling
Over the past seven or so years, I have had occasion to be exposed to at least 4 attempts to start inherently the same business. Two attempts failed dismally, the third survives, but only just, while the fourth is a monumental success.
One of the primary reasons for the failed businesses when compared to the successful business is that the successful business has a singular focus to “do what we do”. All four business attempts, which I’ll write about in some more detail in my next post, were almost identical in intention, method, start-up capital, staff requirements, services offered and target customers; and yet they had vastly different destinies. For the purpose of this article, I will isolate only the principle that I would like to highlight at the moment, to the exclusion of others. This is not to say that other factors did not play a role, or even a significant role, but they simply won’t come into play here.
What do I mean by “Do what you do”?
Simple really! When you start-up a business, you will have a specific vision or intention in mind with respect to the products/services that your business will offer. Once you start your business and it becomes evident that your initial idea and planning was not ludicrously off the mark, and you begin to see some interest generated in what you offer, stick with it! Continue to offer those products or services to the best of your ability; focus on that and nurture your business slowly towards succeeding in your chosen area.
This sounds simplistic, but it is all too easy to become distracted by “opportunities” that are extrinsic to your original plan and model. Remember that you have (presumably) done planning for weeks or months, including your analysis of “what do you do”; your target market and identifying potential customers; your various financial forecast and particularly your cashflow forecasts; your human resources and customer relations; your suppliers; and so it goes on.
Once you start a business, after putting in enormous effort and thought into identifying the direction you intend to take, “opportunities” often seem to rain down from the sky. Much like a sizeable inheritance seems to bring countless, distant relatives sharply into focus, the successful beginning to a business will bring numerous, vague “opportunities”. Long lost friends and their murky business associates will be touching base with you, wanting to have lunch meetings that you will pay for, brimming with ideas guaranteed to succeed (despite having not pursued these ideas themselves), sharing little known information on amazing new ventures. They may be looking for work from you, a loan from you, an investment, or simply a hand out. You will be truly astonished by how your success brings a host of personal satellites orbiting around you, eagerly snatching at any scrap they can.
It is these “opportunities” that I urge you to resist – you have not given them the same careful thought and analysis yet that made your small business begin to succeed. Do what you do, stick to your original vision and focus on your core business!