When I was young (which was not that long ago-sic), I actually believe that I can sprout wings, fly and can do ten things at one time. Nobody can convince me that man cannot multi-task. I am a man in a big hurry (for what exactly, I don’t know). It is as if I have to get a lot of things done in as short a time as possible. If my competitor can do it in 6 months I want to do it in 6 weeks. If they are in two cities I want be in twenty. I never turned away an idea and would totally be willing to try anything and every thing until it gives way or the money does not comes in as expected. Every idea looks good and you think you can conquer them all. I was enthusiastic, energetic and all positive, eager and ready to jump into any ventures (or misadventure). I was totally unfocused.
In the first 5 years of being in business, aside from my core business, which is training and consulting, I also went into publishing, software development, franchising, retailing and any thing that comes along the way. I must have started or got involved in 26 different businesses between 1984 to 1994. Needless to say most of them failed. I made money in some cases and I lost money in others. But one thing is sure I lost focus.
In 1994 I met with Robert Kiyosaki and two things I learnt from him changed my thinking about business and how I should run it. First is the power of leverage and the idea that you can’t do everything by yourself. If the business is not leveraged then it is a work-hard business not a work smart business. The second thing I learnt is to run your business and not the business run you. …down. The best way to run your business is to turn it into a money making machine. System should run your business; hopefully not you and not some one else. That changed my way of running my businesses but I am still not totally focused.
I became more focused after 1997 or rather circumstance forced me to be more focused. If I choose to go into any other areas, it is either as an investor or as a non-operational partner providing strategic inputs. In retrospective I guess the late Steve jobs says it better than any one when he says; “I am proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do”
Apple is a very focused organization and in many ways the organization practices this principle. Steve Jobs went on to say; “Innovation comes from saying no to 1000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important”
It may be hard for an energized, young and dynamic entrepreneur to be totally focused. Just like me, years ago; ideas and new ventures are adrenaline shots that get us really excited and pumped up. You want to do everything, conquer every market and cover more product range or extend your services. Unless you are totally leveraged it could cost the downfall of your initial core business. I have seen a beauty school try to go into skin care retailing and lost money. I have seen a coffee manufacturer start cafés and not get anywhere. I have seen a software company great at project implementation for corporate clients, try to do retailing software to the same clients and still fail.
In my work, coaching business owners and entrepreneurs; common thing I have to do is to help them keep focused. The balance is to know when to be obsessively focused only on what you do and when do you should start trying product extension, market extension, changing business model or going into another area.
When Tupperware here, decided to change their business model whilst moving away from their traditional product line of plastic containers; I was their coach. I was doing the same thing; keeping the management team focused on the objectives in mind and what they have to change. So the lesson is keep focused even when changing.
K.C. See founded the Money Mastery Community with over 8,000 members from 22 countries; a community to support the pursuit of wealth and passion through education and mentorship. He coaches senior managers, entrepreneurs and business owners. Check out http://www.entrepreneurs-coaching.com/etc