Flavors of Focus To Grow Your Startup

In my last post we covered the potential dangers of “shiny objects” when running a startup. So how can a startup maintain focus on the “right things” and avoid being distracted by shiny objects?

Founders and team members should focus on the business goals, users/customer experience, driving KPIs (a whole topic itself), internal team members and getting stuff done every day.

All startups must prove they have a business worthy of your attention and money. The team must focus on the key drivers of the business. Including (but not limited to this list):

  • Is the product ready for release?
  • How are the sales and marketing teams doing against goals?
  • What if anything can they do differently to improve their results? Is something not working? If so, how can it be fixed?
  • Is your message clear and do people understand what you offer?

The answers to these questions should continue to drive the teams to focus on the main factors which will improve the business. If your company is not having these discussions, they are probably focused on some shiny object and hoping for success.

Focus is Not About Another Meeting

Once you know what has to be done, just do it. There is no reason to have hours of meetings to review what everyone already knows. If you find yourself or your team sitting in endless meetings your company has lost focus or it hasn’t been communicated clearly. Fix it quickly and get back to work.

Keeping Focused

Work is hard. Cliché, I know but when you put in the work to build the foundation for the business you will ultimately see the ROI on those efforts. By then you may or may not still be a “startup” but you will have built the engine and levers to drive long term growth.

It’s not easy to tell your boss, CEO or team members — “No. This is not the best way to drive the business. You are falling for a shiny object.” However, the investors are counting on the team to do the right thing and to hold everyone accountable to making the business a success.

Remember CEOs are not the only brains of the organization. They are leaders and managers. They don’t have all the answers (even if sometimes they think they do). You know you found a great CEO when they can say “I don’t know XYZ topic, but I have a top notch team to make it happen.” CEOs often have the task of helping prioritize competing projects which are competing for resources. If decisions are made based on ego, a hot topic of the day, some “shiny object” or gut feelings you have a problem. If the decision is made based on how quickly an initiative will take to drive long term goals, you have a winner.

Startups must focus on the fundamentals and not get sidetracked by some shiny object off in the distance. Don’t let they hype or allure of a quick fix distract the team. Very rarely do startups have hyper growth without doing the hard work.

There is always going to be something which looks better than what you have now. Feel free to explore the idea since you don’t know what you don’t know, but don’t take away focus from the work which matters most. If you do find a winner (proven after a quick test) then pivot and refocus your teams.

Before you get back to work…leave me a comment to let me know what you do to keep focused on driving the business and away from those dangerous shiny objects.