The Necessity of Focus for the Entrepreneur
The Necessity of Focus for the Entrepreneur
One of the many themes I’ve seen demonstrated, or at least professed, by successful entrepreneurs is focus. Part of focus is eliminating distractions and choosing very carefully into what you will invest your limited resources- which includes time, emotional and physical energy, and money, among other things. There are many blogs out there that discuss themes such as eliminating distractions, staying focused, simplifying your life, etc. Scientific research supports this as well; studies show there is no such thing as multi-tasking and that the more decisions one makes throughout the day the less emotional energy one has at the end of the day and the less likely they are to make a correct decision. So it appears our example entrepreneurs have it right; focus is one key element to success.
What Others Have Done
There are varying degrees of focus- from the hyper-focused programmer (or video-gamer I suppose) who will work 40 hours straight on a coding project to the specialist in a particular industry who knows a lot about his subject and not much else. My brother is an example of one kind of focus. He’s a Phd student and, at least until his recent marriage, spent a significant amount of time in the lab after hours on his research project. He had a social life and traveled with his church and friends but he is focused on his lab and research and chooses to limit outside distractions.
So what about focus for the entrepreneur, what does that look like? Again, from reviewing what successful people have done there is a range. My friend Pete at StartupDino.com makes video blogs while in Atlanta traffic commuting home from his “real job”. Noah Kagan from AppSumo.com ran an experiment where he built and launched a monthly beef-jerky subscription service in less than a weekend. The inventor of the Lowbacktrax worked for years, ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to include multiple mortgages on his home, on his way to success (listen to his interview). Other entrepreneurs pour themselves into diet or exercise regimens to increase their productivity.
What I Did
For me, focus came down to being more deliberate with my time, eliminating certain distractions and, once I realized there was not going to be any sort of overnight success, putting in the early and late hours. Specifically, I’ve eliminated nearly every form of news consumption outside of what I need to stay current in my profession. I found I was investing a lot of emotional energy into events that were, quite simply, out of my control. (As an aside, I ran an experiment earlier this week where I read a newspaper; I finished the paper rather depressed; experiment over.) This has, surprisingly, included not keeping up with football or NASCAR, both of which I enjoy immensely but gradually eliminated by default. Evening TV watching is gradually decreasing (actually cancelled DirecTV). And I can’t remember the last time I listened to the radio while commuting (prefer podcasts from my resources page). Sleep too has taken a toll as I try to be up by 5 every morning as that is the only uninterrupted time on which I can count. That being said, getting a good night’s sleep is important and that means turning myself off at a decent hour in the evening, also part of focus.
Now, with all this focus there needs to be some balance, especially when you have other commitments. Once I order those new digital channel rabbit ears I’ll probably enjoy some Sunday afternoon football and Hulu and Netflix provide a welcome distraction for my wife and I at the end of a long day or week. And of course, none of this guarantees success, but they are small steps in what is the right direction.
This is not to say I have focus figured out. One area I know could use some more focus is my overall entrepreneurial pursuits…in fact, were I to appropriately focus this blog would not exist at all! Trying to work on seven streams of income (Stream 1-3 and Streams 4-7) at once is hardly enticing even for someone with all the time in the world, much less to someone with a young family and outside pursuits. Well, not every doctor takes their own medicine…and not every blogger practices what they preach (or blog I suppose). However, I will be working systematically on each of my streams, focusing on each as required to meet commitments and to take advantage of opportunities as they arise, and limiting outside or extraneous distractions.
So, what about You? What’s your take on focus? How have you applied it in your life? Have you given anything up in your entrepreneurial journey? Or am I full of bunk?
P.S. After reading through this a few times I realize that focus is not the only word for the concept I am trying to convey. Discipline, hard work, goal setting, sacrifice, and other words can be used as well. What word do you think better conveys my topic than focus?