Right from secondary school, we were always advised to stay focused. Focused on learning, sport etc. This advise continued through college and further education in University. The advise usually came from Teachers, parents and well-wishers. “Focus” on your Goals, and have absolute clarity on your goals, so that you can progress towards accomplishing your goals.
The general idea is that when you are absolutely focused, you will not get distracted. Hence you are more likely to succeed. “Focus” means clarity of thought, goals and vision, undistracted progress. It is said that most individuals and organisations who are “successful” always had clear focus and they did not stray from it inspite of challenges along the road to Success. Razor sharp Focus brings intensity and a “sense of purpose”. “Good to Great” leaders are the ones who have stayed focused even during challenging times.
Focus is important in your achieving your career goals, career advancement, and generally in living an exemplary life.
As an Entrepreneur I was told by my Investors and well-wishers that “Focus” is what brings success. I understood in the context of clearly defining our business and not getting tempted or strayed from the core focus of our business that was “Education Technology”. In the process, particularly early years of being an entrepreneur I found it difficult to turn down business opportunities or “leads” that did not fit into the “Focus” area we had defined for ourselves. I should it was a struggle, but looking back i would like to think we did the right thing. It helped build a team with clarity on what our business was all about, and getting them to align with it. It helped tell our story with clarity to our prospects and customers. It helped us learn faster in the area we were focussed on. Every Customer, and every customer engagement added incremental value to our business from a learning perspective. This has carried on for over two decades.
While “Focus” is absolutely important during the growth phase of the entrepreneurship journey, I have realised that it is ironical at times. Too much focus couple with intensity, and hence being too close to our products and business, may develop “Blind spots” in the leadership teams.
It is absolutely important for new “pairs of eyes”, and the leadership to step back and look at the business and opportunities that are adjacent to the focus area. This helps broaden our business landscape, increase the number of opportunities and also develop the ability to grow horizontally.
It is not only doing the same thing better and better, it is also about doing newer things that are not too disconnected from the core focus area. as founder/promoter of a business and holding on to the “Focus” can result in developing blindspots in viewing the canvas of our business.
Hence third parties like investors, new recruits, new senior leaders, bring in fresh thinking and help us uncover these “blind spots”. In most cases customer interactions help us over come such limitations in our thinking, if any.
My personal experience is that while absolute focus is required until the business matures, you don’t want the “Blind Spots” to impede growth and diversification.
Encouraging ideation, innovation and creativity in organisations, budgeting for it, and dedicating a team of individuals helps us see the big picture, that is where the bigger opportunities are, and leveraging on such opportunities deliver growth.
While, I have been a long term entrepreneur, having experienced challenges and successes, I believe that contemporary knowledge, thinking, and learning of “best practices”, and of course agility in implementation of such best practices is the responsibility of the leadership team, in order to stay relevant and competitive in the dynamic global world of business.
Many times the business environment gives jolts like the dotcom bust, the depression years, and now the COVID challenge. Continuing to leading and doing business during such challenging times needs Resiliance, and lots of new learning. There will be turbulent times in patches, but smooth flight for most part, as long as the destination is always in sight: The Focus, and the Goals.
This is not advise, just a reflection of my journey as an Entrepreneur. It is about telling a story of an Entrepreneur.
Being a founder and CEO of a business that is Entrepreneur driven is different from an executive leadership of a mature and large businesses. An Entrepreneur and the collective leadership in a Entrepreneur driven business has a lot more emotional connect, the desire not to fail, and to leave a legacy. It is a exciting journey of continuous learning, an Education in itself!