What should I focus on at this stage of my business?
CEO:I just found out we pay you even more than I am compensated. Does that seem right to you?
Advisor:Well, let me explain. You know more about this business than I do. You understand the product and the operations better than anyone else in this company. The difference between us is that I know how to get hundreds of thousands of people to walk in and give us money for our product better than anyone.
Who do you think should be compensated better?
I’ll get back to that in a second…
I majored in Science in high school and one of the major complaints my mates and I had was “what are we going to use the periodic table for once we get into the real world?”
In our elective Mathematics class we said stuff like “there is no real life application of quadratic equations. The teachers are wasting our time.”
It was when I got into business and advising startup founders on business growth that I got answers to those questions .
You see the problem was not the courses or the teachers. The problem was that many of us who asked those questions were not planning to enter fields where those courses would be of us. A bad student to curriculum fit was usually the problem.
I still do not use a lot of that knowledge today(not consciously anyway) but many of my friends who have excelled in scientific fields are extremely grateful for those classes we complained about.
Sooner or later, as a startup founder you’re going to realize that good decisions and accurate judgement will determine how fast your startup grows and how well you do in business.
Accurate knowledge precedes good judgement and decision making.
If this is true then you need to know what knowledge is useful for the kind of person you are…
the stage your business is at…
where you want your business to go and what metrics are important in your industry.
For example, I personally focus a lot on marketing and business growth content because it’s a natural gift I am consistently developing.
Secondly in my business, I am the one in charge of growth. I can have all the management and operations expertise but at the stage of my business that we’re at and what is important to us, I need to be better at getting paying customers to increase better than anyone in my industry.
Some startups and founders have different metrics to focus on. They focus on getting more press, creating an excellent culture, et cetera.
What to focus on depends on what your goals are.
In my opinion, growth should be the CEO’s main metric and every other thing should come afterwards. After all without money coming in, the business will cease to exist.
I once heard that Andrew Carnegie was not very interested in steel. He was interested in business growth. According to the report, he focused a lot on raising money and investing. Those were his metric partly because he was an excellent salesman and raising money is really just a result of being a good salesman.
Focus on what your startup needs to get to the next milestone today. If your startup is small, it may not be the time to be studying on leadership and management. Maybe it’s the time to study more on marketing, innovation and sales.
I’m not saying other skills are not important but depending on where you are in your business, they should not take up more than 20 to 30% of your attention.
This seems like common sense but it would surprise you the kinds of conferences and books I see startup founders pay for. I’ve been there so this is also from personal experience.
The best advice I give in this area is to focus on studying what makes you extremely useful.
If you were just an employee in your business, what skill would you need to be better at than anyone else?
Read more actionable startup and marketing advice at www.growingstartup.com