Some quick thoughts on one of the hardest things to do as an entrepreneur (or intrapreneur) — holding both a big vision and a brutal focus in your mind at the same time. They sound like contradictions and in many ways they are the endlessly feuding families of a new venture. You need to make them happy neighbours though.
You need a big vision.
To quit your job, convince your partner, convince your friends to give up some cash, to recruit great partners and team members, to nail the first pre-sales, to get the cheque from the investor and to continue to get out of bed four hours after you got in there with a big smile and energy in your veins — You. Need. A. Big. Exciting. Clear. Daily-Reinforced. Vision
You can’t get to your vision in one step.
What if Microsoft said that we’re going to try and put computers on every desk straight away? You wouldn’t build an operating system and supporting applications.
What if Facebook wanted to be the world’s most active social network in one move? They wouldn’t have limited their first version to Harvard Students.
What if the USA said it wanted to get a man on the moon in a year? They’d just put someone in a plane and shoot them up there to see what happened.
You get my point. Big visions, like long journeys, take many small steps, a lot of time and plenty of meandering.
So you need to be focused. You need somewhere to start. Somewhere so small that you can deliver it with one person, part-time and with $485 in your ‘spare cash’ fund.
And you’ve never done it before. Probably no one has ever done it before, so you’re going to get it wrong. And get it wrong. And again. And again and again and again. Then, but only then, are you going to nail it and explode. In order to do this quickly, it needs to be really small. Tiny. Microscopic. Focused.
As Steve Sammartino says, business success is a lot about momentum, which equals mass times speed. You can’t win with mass (you don’t have any), so you have to do it with speed. The smaller, the more focused, the less weight, the less distractions, the faster you move.
So you need vision and you need focus.
How do you do it? Welcome to the challenge. 🙂
OK, some thoughts from me.
- Cultivate your vision. Spend time up front to paint it big and exciting. Something you’ll remember in the deepest depths of the startup rollercoaster and something that will guide your every little decision around focus without having to run it through ‘the mainframe’ to check.
- Trust your vision. Once you have it, trust it. Don’t pull out the plant to check the roots. Not even if people challenge it every day (which they will). Have faith.
- Have guts. Being focused takes courage. Picking one thing to focus on means saying no to at least 100 other ideas and options you have. It’s hard. It’s always hard. It gets harder the more successful you are because you know what you’re capable of and have more money to play/pray with. Make a choice and don’t look back…. for at least a year!
- Externalise. You’re going to be in the pressure cooker day in, day out. Your vision and your focus will both be beaten, pushed, shoved, blocked, mocked and distracted. Find ways to put both of them in an external mechanism where the discipline doesn’t rely on your emotions. Find someone you love and trust not in your core team and pre-book quarterly breakfast/lunches with them with just two questions.
- Are we going towards the vision?
- Are we really being focused enough?
Good luck with your arm wrestle with vision and focus. I’d love to hear about your stories of challenge and success.
Mick Liubinskas is one of Australia’s leading web strategists, having served in head marketing roles at Kazaa, Zapr and Tangler. He now runs Pollenizer, the business incubator he co-founded with former-Kazaa colleague Phil Morle.