Let’s say you want to start running, and you’ve got two choices: you can either go for a run every morning, or you can go Mondays, done tai chi on Tuesdays, yoga on Wednesdays, boxing on Thursdays and aqua aerobics on Fridays. Which strategy do you think would improve your running the fastest?
You know the answer — obviously you won’t get better at running nearly as quickly with plan two than plan one, and in fact, you’d probably give up on the project entirely because your efforts would be so scattered that you wouldn’t be making good progress in any area.
It’s obvious when spelled out with a metaphor like that, but we see people fail to apply the same principle in their businesses all the time.
They get the idea that they need to be everywhere all at once and to try to be the best at everything all at once, and so they make really well intentioned, but ultimately doomed scattershot efforts.
If there ever was one important secret for success in business, it’s this: get incredibly focused. You can do everything, but you can’t do it all at once.
Instead of wearing yourself out running around trying the latest hacks, signing up for the latest social media, or networking with new person after new person, if you focus on doing one thing, getting it really nailed down, and then moving on to the next thing, you’ll be amazed at the progress you’ll make.
The corollary here is that you need to have your priorities really clear.
While focusing on one not-so-important thing is still a lot better than spreading your focus around to a bunch of things, you’ll get the best results when you focus on the most important thing you can do and then go from there.
So think about this as you’re going your business planning. In each area of your business, what is the single most important thing you can focus on? What is going to give you the best return on your investment of time and money? What has to happen first before you can move on to another stage?
And then do whatever it takes so that you can focus all your efforts on that thing. If that means letting another less important thing slide a little bit, then let it slide. If it means outsourcing, then outsource. If it means changing direction entirely, then do what you need to do.
Finally, make sure that you have clear metrics from the beginning so that you’ll know when your efforts have paid off — otherwise how will you know it’s time to move on to the next thing?
OK, your turn: tell us, what is the most important thing you can focus on in your business right now? And what are you going to let slide so that you can concentrate your efforts?