Less is More: Breadth Vs Focus

This week, Global Entrepreneur Week, has got me thinking: why is it that entrepreneurs – small businesses – have the reputation of being able to be nimble and steal a march on the big boys?

I think it comes down to one key reason, but that it also comes with a catch!

The reason is focus – we all work best when we have a clear task in front of us.  When we have the one thing that we’re really good at and we can focus on doing that as well as possible and sharing that value with the greatest number of people, then we’ve the best chance possible of making a substantial impact in terms of value and thereby growing a business.

So what about the catch?  Well, it’s not what you might expect, but it’s a biggie.  In order to really live up to “less is more” and really focus on the thing that makes us really different, as entrepreneurs, we have to stop doing stuff – consciously decide that we’re not going to do all the things that we did last week, but deliberately bring some to a stop.

It’s this ability to stop doing stuff which differentiates a small business, an entrepreneur, from a larger established business (and let’s face it, they have enough advantages as it is!).  Big businesses tend to add things rather than take them away – your computer (if you run windows) still does all the things it did five years ago, plus a few more – your next car will probably have more gadgets than your last car.  It’s easy to think that big businesses get trapped into the search for ever greater revenue and therefore become reluctant to stop doing anything even if it’s bringing in less cash before, but I don’t think it’s that simple.  Once you build a thing, you build up the systems to carry on doing it again, supporting it, upgrading it, and removing that activity from your business demands that you change a whole lot more than just a product page on your website – you have to change systems and you have to change people – yourself included.

It’s easier for you – the entrepreneur –  to change your business than it is for the big companies you compete with though, so whilst it’s still tough and takes a lot of work – it’s worthwhile because it’s what makes you a successful entrepreneur.

Next week I’ll be joining out team at The Business Show, and I had to boot something out of my diary to make that happen.  It would be easy to think that those other weekly tasks were more important, but for me, getting to meet entrepreneurs and professionals working in small business and seeing how our product can make their jobs easier is pretty much the most important thing I can be focussing on right now, so it wasn’t a hard choice to make.

I hope you can make it and that we’ll see you at the CreditHQ stand on the day (we’ll make it worth your while), and maybe the thing that you stop doing in order to free up the time to head to the show might be something you should stop doing for good.

Author: Martin Francis Campbell

Tech Entrepreneur turned Charity CIO. Can the charity sector use digital technology to reinvent itself? I'm finding out...

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