In my mind focus is a key attribute unpinning success in all walks of life including from a business perspective.
Throughout my time with Cadimage there were multiple times where focus was critical.
During the GFC, we needed an intense focus on the costs of running our business and making sure every dollar was spent wisely to ensure we would come out the other side. We also needed to focus on business strategies that had a higher chance of success during a very difficult sales period.
In the development side of our business following two acquisitions (spread 8 years apart) we found ourselves with a large collection of ArchiCAD Tools. When we did the maths simply maintaining all the Tools required more time then we had available. We had to be ruthless and we also had to take actions that at least in the short term would potentially upset customers – sunsetting a number of products.
This was a painful experience and while the maths showed us which Tools had fewest users it didn’t mean it was easy for those specific users who enjoyed use of a discontinued Tool.
In order to try to avoid actions like this it is critical to learn to say no – often.
It is too easy to say yes and begin things that start spreading resources too thin. Our acquisitions brought both great products and great people, and by discontinuing some of these products the team were more able to focus on our key products which ultimately led to increased customer satisfaction. 1
Learning to say no is hard, but ultimately leads to greater focus.
Building a start-up as I am currently doing requires immense focus. I have a huge range of ideas and see great opportunities dotted throughout the architecture design process. However, we are focused at this stage on a single opportunity, and even within this opportunity we need to focus on the really big issues and plan our development carefully.
In addition running a start-up requires constant attention to costs. While we are raising capital to fund the building of our business we have a commitment to our investors to spend the money wisely. Sometimes having less money helps provide additional pressure to really focus on meaningful spending. There are many stories of over funded start-ups that utlimately fold as they didn’t have the discipline of focus as a core attribute in their business.
This interesting article popped into my inbox today talking exactly about the Upsides to Unshipping: The Art of Removing Features and Products