It is so easy to lose focus and get off track. I’ve done it hundreds of times in my life. In fact, I just had this happen with my business. I’m still very new and just starting out. I ended up talking with a friend of mine who gave me a great idea. I was so excited about it. It was what I wanted to do. So for the past month, I have been focusing on this particular manner of advertising my business. She and I drew up a whole campaign around this particular advertising strategy. Then one night I woke up at 4:30 am and sat bolt upright. I realized that for the past month, I have been headed in the wrong direction. That’s right. I had inadvertently changed the entire focus for my business.
It was so easy to do. She talked to me, I’m still starting out and it made sense. For other types of businesses. Not mine. I was so devastated. I couldn’t believe that for an entire 5 week period, I was well off track and heading further away from my original business concept. And the kicker? It was so easily done that I didn’t even clue in until 5 weeks had passed.
I’m grateful that I didn’t spend a lot of money on this advertising strategy. I would have been quite costly actually. It’s how her and I met. I contacted her to ask some questions and next thing I knew, she was selling me on it. And it made sense, if my business was a traditional bricks and mortar store. But it’s online and buying traditional advertising just doesn’t make sense.
Buffett talks about keeping focus for his business. He knows how easy it is to be lured by something new and flashy but that may not make good financial sense or even keep with the company’s overall strategy. He tells stories about how some of his managers have purchased other businesses which didn’t keep well with BH’s long term strategies and how these purchases diverted attention and resources away from the primary business goals of BH. He warns that, especially in the early days, to keep focus on your main business and not get distracted by other delicious looking fruit. Keep focused and it will pay off.
I can’t say that I am totally surprised that I found myself wandering off course at such an early stage. I saw this with researchers in the university when they were applying for funding. They called it “scope creep”. It meant that very slowly the focus of their project was being pulled in different directions and that their main project was now being diluted by these offshoot projects. The thing is, the offshoot projects were interesting. And that’s how scope creep happens. You are introduced to something new and want to check it out. That’s just human nature. I was so interested in what my friend was showing me and could see the value in it. But it wasn’t the best for my business, even though it is a very successful way to advertise other businesses.
I’ve now chosen to keep my focus where I originally started. I can see that at some point, I will expand what I’m doing but for now, there is no need. I need to get good at what I’m doing and become an expert at that. Simply put—get good at one thing and stay there for a while. I’ll trust my gut that I’ll know when it’s time to expand. And that’s the great part about working for myself. I can navigate different ways to do business when I’m ready. And for now, I am ready to just focus and get good at one thing.