We live in a globally connected world and we are no longer confined to do business within our local communities. Everyone is online and it's been a while since our local market was our only reach. Global business is now for everyone at any scale – from the one-person online store to traditional shops and makers. With so many attractive opportunities and markets around the world, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and sometimes even paralyzed by it all. This article aims at providing a simple yet powerful tool for anyone looking to recalibrate for success.
The tool we’re talking about is – Focus. We are here discussing focus for business, but the concept also translates to individuals looking to offer value and make an impact. It is fundamental for a business to offer something of value to a paying customer. As business grows, attention is focused on creating and delivering value through products that enables expansion to take on more customers. By the time growth really kicks in, many businesses enter into a mode of “doing their thing” for anyone who needs it. Some even work hard to sell “their thing” to people who don’t actually need it.
Finding Your Competitive Edge
For most of us living in the connected world, there’s an abundance of distractions and opportunities. These two are often hard to distinguish from one another – especially as everyone’s competing for attention. Attention is a scarce resource held by the customer and successful businesses of the future need to respect attention through sharpened focus. Businesses can develop a unique edge and competitive advantage by being everything for someone - not something for everyone. That “someone” needs to be clearly defined and understood, and the true value of what’s offered is directly reflected in each paying customer.
We can all agree that one person or company simply cannot be the best at everything for everyone. It is natural that others will outperform you on the sole basis of focus. We know that we need to do things differently to stand out, but only a few are willing to consistently be different. For most, it is in our nature to not want to stand out. Standing out is scary because it requires sacrifice. By so firmly deciding on what to be and who to be for, we consequentially also decide on what NOT to be and who NOT to be for. We leave almost everyone out in favor of the “someone” we religiously serve.
Rome Wasn't Built In A Day
It is incredibly difficult for most individuals to consistently stand out and even more challenging for organizations to achieve true focus and differentiation. To scale focus in organizations requires strong culture and leadership, because as mentioned, it is naturally scary. If it does not feel scary to leave someone out, you are probably not doing it right. Embrace that fear, focus on your specific “someone”, serve them religiously, and leave others out. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint.
“The hunter who chases two rabbits catches neither one.” – Confucius
Where to start?
Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking. If you would like to use the tool of focus - take a moment with yourself to answers the two questions below.
- What do you do? - your discipline
- You may feel tempted to list many things, and that’s ok. But for now, choose only the one thing that you already do or want to do best.
- For who do you do it? - your market
- Make a list of 10 people or companies you will serve first. Start small and make sure there’s room to grow.
Do 'your thing' incredibly well for 'your market' until you become the number one provider and continue to sharpen your focus on a regular basis.