When a founder needs to focus (and ways to find out which client wants to pay you)

I once worked with a startup founder who like many of us gets hundreds of ideas daily. He always wanted to extend a product line or create a completely new service. At one time he actually considered splitting his business into two so he could work on two different projects at the same time. This of course turned into a disaster since a creative entrepreneur without clarity and focus in product development cannot have a clear definition of who his most ideal customer will be.

The video above shows a younger Mark Zuckerberg explaining Facebook’s early vision. It is interesting to note how focused he was on providing value for college students. He did not set out to cater to everyone at first. Facebook’s early genius was being the best social network for a small group of people. Those small groups of people loved it. The emphasis her is on LOVE. If you can get a small group of people to love your product or service, they will recruit others who they believe will love it too. However if you decide to target a lot of people without defining your ideal customer, you will soon not know where the business is going.

Why I Focus On Creative Entrepreneurs And Small Business Owners
Readers of Growingstartup.com will notice I focus largely on creative entrepreneurs and small business owners instead of Fortune 500 CEOs or business professionals. Some who know that I am trained as both a software engineer and web developer are surprised when they do not see my talking about Javascript libraries. This is on purpose. The starving artist or the entrepreneur with less than 100 employees who is struggling to get profitable is someone I can relate with.

I have been there. I know what it is like to receive tons of press and even presidential awards and still have less than $1,000 in your bank account.

I have been at the place where you have people liking your posts but not buying anything. Thank God I also know what it is like to have so much money coming out of your business that you make sales even in your sleep. Growingstartup is my tool to help entrepreneurs create businesses that make money for them in their sleep and give them the freedom to do whatever they want; be it take their entire family or staff on holiday or just invest in other projects. Even though I could teach on Blue Ocean Strategy and some aspects of Six Sigma, that is not my calling and neither are those who need such knowledge my intended audience. Focusing on creative entrepreneurs and small business owners allows me to provide the most value for people who need to develop their passions into profitable businesses and concentrate on helping startups grow their business, increase their impact and build profitable empires.

What Should You Do To Get Focused?

Ask yourself these questions?
“What made me start this business in the first place?”
“When I started out, who did I want to serve?”
“Who do I love serving today?”(the answer should never be yourself or an investor).
“If I walked into a busy airport or train terminal, would I be able to spot my ideal client in a second?”
“Who is my ideal client? What does she look like? What else does she buy apart from my product? Where does she hang out online? What links would be in her browser history? What Youtube videos does she watch and share?”
“What value am I providing the market? Am I serving or am I in this just for the money?”
I tell entrepreneurs that need
clarity to focus on what value they are providing and which clients need or deeply desire that value.

 

The News Trap
There are entrepreneurs who are more concerned with which magazines featured them and not the value they have created. Do you think Warren Buffett would introduce himself as Warren Buffett, “I have appeared in the WSJ and NYT” or Warren Buffett founder of one of the most successful holding companies in history?
Don’t let what Business Insider or social media say about your business or competition determine the course of your business. Every press article or social media post is either communicating facts or opinions. The wise creative entrepreneur knows how to process the facts into gold. I have met a few reporters and many(not all) of them have no business training or understanding of entrepreneurship. Isn’t it funny that you; a seasoned CEO with an understanding of his field would stress over an English major who does not know the intricacies of your business? This is not to say that the press is dumb but more of often than not, entrepreneurs spend more time reading websites, the news and celebrating vanity metrics than they do creating value for their customers.
Remember that not all opinions are created equal so news reports and follower’ comments should not cause you to lose sleep.

Write The Vision and Say It Everyday

If the vision is to be the leading fitness coach for stay-at-home moms looking to lose weight then write it down and say it everyday. If the vision is to build the leading Saas startup for online retailers who have revenues of $500,000 a year then write it down and say it everyday. Say it to your close friends, say it to yourself when you wake up in the morning, say it to your vendors and employees. There are few things that are worse than following a leader who is not sure of where she is going.

If you take one thing to implement right now I would say it is writing the vision and continuously confessing it. What you say long enough, you will believe and what you believe, you will say. What an entrepreneur believes is more powerful than a million online ads and growth hacking strategies. I say this because our lives move in the direction of our dominant beliefs. I once went over 14 months consulting on projects that I had little interest in. Why? I had forgotten or let my vision slip because it was not something I consciously paid attention to.

Here are some books that have helped many entrepreneurs to focus on the right things.
Book 1: Art Of The Start

This is an old classic. What I liked about this was how methodical the author was. There is very little fluff in this book.

Book 2:The Man From Zara

Ortega is one of my favorite entrepreneurs of all time. He resisted the temptation to move Zara into the United States too soon and that has paid off handsomely. I also love how he knows that Zara is best at creating affordable and stylish clothing. He does not try to do too many things at once. In fact the book describes how much Ortega resisted creating Zara Home as an extension of his flagship brand.

Book 3: Made In America

Sam Walton was the king kong of focus even though he did not like to admit it. This engaging story is a must read for anyone who wants to know what to focus on at every stage of a retail business. Walton knew how to pick a project and find out which tools he needed to fix it. Excellent read.

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