Launching a tech startup is an exciting venture for anyone, as such an endeavor is inherently risky, yet is not without its potential for prosperity. However, many founders too often get caught up in the thrill of building a new, possibly game changing product that they lose sight of their main goal and spread themselves too thin, leading their once promising company to ruin. In short, creating an offering that solves multiple problems is an admirable yet misguided mission, especially for beginning entrepreneurs.
Focus, therefore, is a lesson that not only every founder needs to learn, but one that needs to be learned as soon as possible.
Don’t believe us? Just ask Tim Hyer, a Graduate of the Silicon Valley Founder Institute. Hyer and his startup Getable, a rental concierge for construction equipment, were profiled on Business News Daily in the article, “Behind the Business Plan: Getable”, by Adam C. Uzialko, in which he discussed the history and development of Getable, offering useful insights that every budding founder should keep in mind. However, one of the most valuable bits of advice that Hyer gave was to remain focused on the task at hand and to practice restraint when exploring the possibilities of their product.
By nature, a startup is extremely resource constrained. The last thing it needs is to be spread even thinner than it already is. When working on a brand new problem that no one has attempted to solve before, the possibilities are limitless - as are the distractions.”
Apply Focus to Company Strategies
Hyer isn’t alone in this belief - in a Yahoo Small Business article, “Focus: The Most Important Quality Your Startup Needs”, Ty Morse extols the virtues of focus in the chaotic environment that results in the early days of launching a startup.
Too quickly you’ll take on too many things. You’ll have differentiated into too many products, options, and services, in an effort to please anyone who shows even a hint of interest in your company.”
To stay on track, Morse recommends that founders should do the following:
Choose one business model. There is no one-size-fits-all business model that applies to every startup, so budding founders should take the time to conduct extensive research into which model they should adopt for their company before launch. And once of you’ve settled on the best model for your company, stick with it, as changing models while your startup is already up and running will only hinder your success.
Pick one problem your company solves and stay with it. It’s tempting to continuously add more and more fancy features to your product, but until you’ve completely solved one problem, none of those extra bells and whistles are going to impress your customers.
Fire your bad employees. This may be one of the hardest challenges to overcome in the early days of a startup, especially when recruiting team members that are both affordable and qualified can be daunting. However, if an employee isn’t furthering the progress of your company, it’s time to consider the ROI of this person and thinking about letting them go. Keeping bad employees on board will only create additional problems down the road.
Apply Focus to Daily Tasks
Focus isn’t just something that should be implemented in your company’s overall strategy, but something that should be applied to your daily routine, as well. In the Tech.co article, “7 Habits of Successful Startup Founders”, by Meagan French, Twitter founder and CEO of multiple startups Jack Dorsey cites focus as the primary cause of his productivity, refusing to let the lure of multitasking inform his day to day work schedule.
In fact, Dorsey goes so far as to assign himself “theme days”, which allows him to devote 100% of his energy to a different theme on each day. Here’s what he has to say on the matter:
On Monday, at both companies, I focus on management and running the company… Tuesday is focused on product. Wednesday is focused on marketing and communications and growth. Thursday is focused on developers and partnerships...”
Living in the digital age means that most people want results sooner and sooner, which has led to the belief that multitasking is the way to go. However, in a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, researchers have concluded that carrying out more than one task at a time, especially more than one complex task, takes seriously hinders productivity and efficiency. So next time you feel the urge to say “yes” to more matters that may require your attention, make sure that your task is completed before moving to the next one.
If you still think that taking on more and more responsibility as an entrepreneur will ensure the success of your company, divert your attention to the words of Paul Graham, cofounder of Y Combinator, which has graduated over 630 startups, including Dropbox, Airbnb, and Stripe. Put simply,
The most important thing for startups to do is to focus, because there are so many things you could be doing. One of them is the most important. You should be doing that. And not any of the others."
Graduates of the Founder Institute are creating some of the world's fastest growing startups, having raised over $950M in funding, and building products people love across over 200 cities worldwide.
See the most recent news from our Grads at FI.co/news, or learn more about their stories at FI.co/journey.