I’ve been in business for a while – I’ve bought and sold a surf shop, started an accountancy business and launched a series of products and services that have assisted many business owners navigate the sometimes rocky world of business ownership. But if I started over what would I do differently?
Focus on one thing. You see, over the years I have suffered from bright shiny object syndrome and a plethora of ideas. As an entrepreneur at heart ideas are my lifeblood. This is not to say it’s best to implement them all, because some ideas are best left to others. I need projects in my life; things that are new and exciting. But while these projects have sustained my need for new challenges, not all of these projects have served my business well.
In order to focus on your core business until is a well-oiled machine that requires maintenance only, the projects you take on MUST be in alignment with your core business vision and mission. If not, they are simply providing a distraction from that core business. Work on projects, sure, but make sure they are complementing your core business, or helping it to grow from strength to strength, rather than distracting you as the owner and key driver of the business’s vision.
Enlist the help of a mentor from day one and continue to have one for your entire business journey. The mentors you work with will change as your journey does, but making sure you choose someone to guide you who has been there and done that is so important in shortcutting the obstacles and barriers that can arise. Mentors can be the difference between making a huge mistake (which often costs money) and not. Cashflow is often an issue in business and the ability to minimise costly mistakes goes a long way in propelling your business forward to the next level.
Choose Your Hats Carefully
When you start out in business you are often bootstrapping and so are required to wear many hats – chief designer, bookkeeper, marketer, admin etc. Sometimes this works well, sometimes it doesn’t. If one of these titles makes you want to vomit, you procrastinate about it, and if either of these responses has a ripple effect on your business, then get help. Get someone else to do it. For example, if you’re hopeless at bookkeeping and, thus, aren’t invoicing clients in a timely manner, which is, in turn, delaying cashflow and affecting your ability to pay yourself or employees, get someone else to do it; someone who loves it! Generally they’re way more efficient at it than you, and you can “focus” on your core business.
Pay others for their “Brilliance” Skills
You’re good at what you do and expect to be paid appropriately for that skill. You have a skill that has been crafted over many years and, more than likely, you’ve done you’re 10,000 hours (as per Malcolm Gladwell). If you’re not brilliant at designing, why are you trying to design your flyer? Get a designer to do it – that’s their brilliance. If you’re not good at marketing, find someone to help you with it, or learn to do it so it does become a master skill. But until it becomes a key skill, pay someone appropriately to assist you. (NOTE* I believe you shouldn’t outsource your marketing; it should be something you are the key driver for because marketing is that important to your business. Outsource parts of your marketing, yes, but I don’t suggest you outsource it totally.)
Focus on your core business (your core skills), learn marketing and outsource the rest.
What do you need to remove from your focus to laser in on your core business?