Importance of Staying Focused

There seems to be a high correlation between how this crazy election season has just completed and how many entrepreneurs run their businesses.

This is especially true when things are not going the way we planned or hoped.  In our government’s case, their attempt to deal with the economy’s sluggishness, Iraq’s instability, Afghanistan’s war looking unwinnable, Gulf of Mexico’s massive oil spill, climate change’s challenges increasing daily, financial industry’s insatiable greed, as well as the housing industry’s collapse among others.

It’s easy to lose your focus and hard to get back on track when things like that are flying at you.

And while what the government has being grappling with is an extreme example of what entrepreneurs have to deal with, here’s how it is the same:

What Not to Do:

  • An Unclear Agenda—with a poor strategy or plan to execute it.  Like the Obama Administration for thinking it could take it all on simultaneously.
  • Collapsing Issues—by thinking, saying and acting on that “nothing is working”, when in fact only one, two or several things are not working.  Like this week’s kicking out long-term Congress members regardless of their voting record.
  • Unsupportive Team—having members with conflicting goals, agendas and self-interests.  Like Republicans vs. Democrats and the need to outshine each other and virtually eliminate bipartisanship.
  • Unstable Infrastructure—reducing investments and/or prioritizing crucial R&D, training and development, or crucial software / hardware to keep things moving.  Like the current attempt in Congress to cut back Medicaid for the poor.
  • Fear of Being Wrong—which has management change strategies and firings prematurely.  Like this week’s elections firing most of a political party before a fraction of their plan is implemented.

Imagine running a company this way!  Yet many do, in various forms.  Which leads to very predictable results:


What TO Do:

  • Clear Goal—your core agenda.  Make it specific and measurable, with a clear outcome and strategy for execution.  Making that goal your #1 priority and having it keep you grounded.  For example, the Administration’s clarity on health care reform and keeping focused on it to completion.
  • Define Milestones—to measure the success of your goal.  Determine at what point in the implementation phase must you check in and assess the success to date.  And at what point must you let go of the strategy and move to Plan B.  Like the Obama Administration turning around General Motors from bankruptcy to profitability.
  • Get Team On Board—paint the vision.  Explain the purpose.  Inspire the team using your leadership skills.  Explain how crucial their role in your plan is to the company.  Just like how Obama went from being state senator to president of the United States in record speed.
  • Over Communicate—impossible to say enough when you are managing a serious goal and needing to do it quickly.  Like when the Health Reform bill was being passed and the Administration was “all hands on deck” with Congress trying to move it through.
  • Make Your Mistakes—as you will and should.  Just know how to accelerate through them.  This needs to be balanced with not changing strategies too early.  Knowing when it is time.  Like perhaps we should now be doing with Afghanistan.
  • Stay Focused—don’t lose sight of your goal.  Don’t let other issues distract you easily.  Prioritize, manage and delegate challenges quickly as they arise.  Like the Administration’s goal of getting out of Iraq on time.

Now you will always have your challenges in business.  And they will always change as you move forward.  This constant moving target is what makes things difficult to stay focused and on target.

Yet, make sure you have your basics together, infrastructures in place, team supporting the vision and communication system set up.  These tips will help you accomplish the most UnReasonable goal of all, a happy and sustainable business.

Action Steps for the Week:

Where are you losing focus with your business?  What is distracting your attention?  What are you blaming it on?

Too many emails, the economy, dishonest employee, what?  Let all that go and take ownership of where your business is vs. where you want it to be.  Once you take responsibility, you can then get to work.

Commit to clearing the deck for a day to determine the following:

  1. What is your UnReasonable goal for the business.  Make it specific and measurable.
  2. Develop a strategy to achieve this goal by the date you choose.
  3. Determine the milestones and time lines you must reach to achieve this goal.
  4. Identify the “go/no-go” milestone for assessing if it is working.
  5. Implement a team building strategy and communication system to keep everyone moving the goal forward powerfully.
  6. Expect to make mistakes along the way.  Have your infrastructure in place to accelerate through them.
  7. Have someone keep you focused and inspired by your goal.  A person with experience and no attachment to the outcome either way:  a mentor, board member, friend, fellow entrepreneur, or business coach.

If you do these things, there will be very little you cannot accomplish.  Just keep your eye on the ball as the world tries its best to distract you.