The Founder Focus Fallacy
Don’t tell me about focus
Everyone tells entrepreneurs that they have to, without exception, focus on one thing and be amazing at that one thing if they are to achieve success.
I get it, in principle; Don’t be everything to everyone. Don’t have too many product positions. Don’t constantly build, pivot, flip, start another business on the side, try a different angle, etc, etc, etc. Focus on a single goal and hustle at it over time.
Just focus and it’ll all come right if you hunker down for long enough on one thing. Be the best at that one thing.
Sure. One thing.
For me, that one thing is socks. Believe it or not, I have built a business on the heel of daring socks.
Let me tell you how my “one thing” days look as the founder of a startup…
I wake up at 5:45am and my phone is buzzing with customer enquiries and live chat support requests about shipping, product information questions and more.
I answer those and then check my email, play with my dogs and knock off a few things from my to do list: deep etching products for the website, writing a blog post, putting together our weekly newsletter which entails photo editing, linking, tracking and other things. I might schedule some Facebook adverts, Tweets, Instagram posts and then start my Snapchat story for the day.
I might then receive a notification that the alarm in our store is broken. I have to call to get that fixed. We have IP Cameras installed in our stores so I have to figure out how those work on my devices. Then it’s near month end so I have to get on top of sales, stock management and transfers for the day/week/month.
I also have figure out staffing schedules and shifts, manage HR, contracts, training and other company culture related issues that come into play when you go from 2 to 7 staff in a couple of months.
Then, due to the nature of our multichannel business I’ll have to get my head into the game of shop design and fitting. Once our retail store is up and running, I am deep into the sales process of every new store, manning it every day, all day so I can learn the ins and outs of my stores.
The four paragraphs above indicate that I suffer from a severe lack of focus.
When all the great entrepreneurs, investors and business writers discuss focus, they mean broad focus. They do not mean that as a founder of a startup you can only focus on a single part of your business.
That level of focus at an early stage startup is virtually impossible.
I’d like to suggest that experiencing the guts of your business from top to bottom and back down again is an imperative part of gaining insight into your business.
Founder focus is a fallacy.
Don’t let it ruin your business early on.
If you stare at the sun too long, you’ll go blind. If you focus too hard on one area of your business, it may go blind too.