Thursday, July 4, 2013

Three Questions to Ask to Focus Your Energy

energy (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains.  Steve Jobs

We all do it.  We have an idea.  We're going to write a book, sell on ebay or teach an online course in the area of our expertise.  We're going to start a mastermind group, consult with local businesses or create a speaking business.  It doesn't matter what the idea is but pretty soon we're expanding and delving into other areas.  Sometimes it's because we have a client that wants to buy our product but could we just change it a bit to fit their specific need or environment?  Well sure, we usually speak on leadership but we could probably tweak the presentation and speak on parenting.   Build a deck?  Well...sure we have a lawn care business but we could probably do that too. Sometimes it's because we just read a blog or listened to a podcast about the next best way to reach an audience and now we aren't just writing our own blog but we are also starting a podcast and learning to videotape and... Well you get the idea.  We are doing a little bit of everything and master of none.  We are spread so thin in so many areas that we've forgotten that original idea of working in our strength and following our passion. 

Three Questions

In order to create a sustainable, profitable business we need to focus our energy, our time and our resources.  Here are three important questions we need to ask ourselves:
  1. What is the greatest life lesson that I have learned that I am passionate about sharing with others?   Chris Guillebeau in his book, The $100 Start-Up makes the point that we may well have some passions that it is not possible to monetize.  If you are passionate about eating pizza for instance, figuring out a way to make money with that is unlikely.  On the other hand, I can just hear Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income suggesting creating a niche site on rating the best pizza in your area and monetizing that, so don't short change yourself on your talents and your passion.  However, you do need to be realistic about the time and additional talents necessary to monetize it. There are some hobbies that are best left a hobby because to turn them into a business would take the joy out of them. 
  2. What am I doing right now that I need to drop out of because other people can do it better and I'm not passionate about it?  Have you diluted your talents?  Have you created obligations that are draining your time but don't really fit in with your mission?  Did you agree to do something temporarily that has become permanent?  Are there things you are doing that are incongruent with your plan? Are you trying to do everything when you could delegate some of the tasks that you don't really like to do?  If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then narrow down your focus and simplify your life.  Refer clients to someone else who does what they need better.  Eliminate those tasks that don't produce the desired results.  Don't be a generalist who says yes to every opportunity that comes along. Be selective.  Be excellent.  Be remarkable.
  3. If I only picked three things that I would do what would they be?  Find the areas that really use your expertise and your passion.  Now set up a schedule and a plan to focus on those three areas.

Less is More 

A television show that I have watched with interest on numerous occasions is Restaurant Impossible.  In the show, chef Robert Irvine, evaluates restaurants that are on the brink of failure and not only renovates the physical space but changes everything from staff to menu options.  For each session, he typically has the cooks prepare all of the main dishes, tries them and revamps the menu.  Here is one thing he always does;  he downsizes the menu.  Instead of pages of items, he always has them create a select few items  and make them really well.  We too can learn from this scenario.

Are you trying to be a generalist or are you working with focus in your area of strength?  What do you need to let go of?  What do you need to ramp up?

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1 comment:

  1. Such great advice, Lynne, as always, and I love the reference to Restaurant Impossible. What a perfect image that is for downsizing and rethinking our priorities! We can too easily become distracted by "possibilities" and lose our focus on what our main goal needs to be.
    Thanks for a great post, my friend!