The Focusing Entrepreneur

Is this an extinct specie or are there hope for our entrepreneurs?

When I told my team I am going to write an article on entrepreneur focus, it was met with amusement. Let’s face it, I often feel that the only time I feel in control of my schedule is way before the sun rises in the morning. After that, everything becomes a little bit more blurry.

Yes, it is easy to give solid advice on entrepreneur focus when I am in conversation with my business coaching clients, but you know how the saying goes: the shoemaker’s children always go barefoot! And so my little offspring are metaphorically running around barefoot. The reality is that if you are an entrepreneur, there is a high probability that your offspring are also running around barefoot.

The Multitasking Entrepreneur

From being passionate to ambitious, to motivated, dedicated, creative, and visionary, there is an abundance of traits that can help an entrepreneur rise to the top, but staying focused is the one ability that absolutely every business owner should strive towards.

You can’t focus unless you know where you’re going and what impact you want to make in the world. This is the reason why a detailed vision is so important for your personal life and for your company too. Your vision and your focus go hand in hand. They direct each other. As an entrepreneur, your focus should be on the reason you started your company in the first place, where you want to take your company now, and keep on checking in on the impact you want to make with it in the world.

Being Lost in the Wilderness of Options

Focus on your target market whose problems you want to solve is just as critical. In my practice, I am constantly faced with clients who do not want to focus on a niche market as they are scared they will be missing out on sales opportunities. The reality is that you cannot be everything to everyone. Once you focus, you can become an expert in that field. Once you become an expert, you have a topic that you can present to the world. Without that entrepreneurial focus, you are pretty much lost in the wilderness of options.

Getting the East to the West

But textbooks and reality are often as wide apart as the East from the West. I can remember countless times when I arrived for my marketing consultation with my entrepreneur clients, who are trying to solve logistical problems, financial problems, admin problems, and hunger pain problems in between our meetings. And then they wonder why the poor sole is on chronic medication and have the heart specialist on speed dial.

The danger of living in a world where it is possible to be on call 24/7 is that the majority of your time may be spent fielding phone calls, emails, and social posts. This means the tasks you wanted to complete remain untouched.

Below are a few practical ideas to improve your focus as an entrepreneur.

Put your phone away

Dave Rusenko, Co-founder of Weebly has this advice: I have a personal policy that any time I’m with someone – at a meeting, dinner, or over drink – I will never check my phone or watch, and make sure to keep 100 percent focus on the person. This carries into our meetings. We have a saying at the office during meetings, “laptops down.” Unless you’re the presenter, the rule is everyone needs to shut their laptop in the meeting. It allows the person to be physically and mentally present.

Stay active

Like lots of entrepreneurs, my attention is always pulled in a dozen directions at once. The one thing that really helps me stay focused is exercise. After I jog, do yoga or get out and do some backcountry skiing, I always come back with more clarity and focus. Ryan Holmes, Hootsuite

Compartmentalise

I try to compartmentalize my days. For instance, I’ll spend an hour before the workday sending out emails, and I won’t look at incoming emails until everything is completely outbound. I find that I focus more when I do only one thing and not a million things; it cuts down on the noise. Jennie Ripps, Owls Brew.

Train your Brain

“I had the benefit of studying at a Jesuit monastery. We studied complicated texts and immersed ourselves, pushing our attention spans to the very limit. It’s like meditation in that you learned to direct your thoughts. It’s an active skill, like working out.”

Pick something that you want to think about, and only think about that. Don’t let anything else enter your thoughts. Try for five minutes in the beginning — and know that just like a marathon where you start with just a half mile to begin with, in the end, you’ll be able to do it for hours once you train for it.

Oliver Kharraz, Zocdoc Founder

Ditch that Image

I often find that admission is the first step to improvement. Entrepreneurs by trait have high self-appreciation. The God’s gift to mankind-type, or at least that is their opinion. Sometimes this works massively to their advantage, but other times, it is their biggest stumbling block. I have met some highly successful entrepreneurs like Ryno Griesel, who stops everything else and focus on you while you are having a meeting and then I have the other side where people think the busier they seem to be, the more important they are. Right? Nee boet, I think it is time to ditch that image of what makes you important.

The 7Ps

Do you know the 7 P’s of Planning? Probably not. The 7 P’s is an adaptation that my brother Flip taught me when he was an Engineering student at the then Iscor in Vanderbijlpark many many moons ago. (Apparently, this is also a thing in the army.) And I still find it amusing to this day! Proper Pre-Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance! Plan your day as much as possible. Have your realistic action list. Focus on one task at a time as much as possible. And tick it off as you go along. Have weekly strategy sessions to check whether you are still in line with your vision. If this means a solo coffee at Mugg & Bean, so be it.

And have a default diary! This is an aspect that we constantly talk about at addVENTURES and specifically addVENTURES Academy. A default diary is the holy grail of being organized!

Are you aligned with the stars?

If you really find you keep on losing track and finding excuses not to complete a task, there might be a bigger problem than the focus at hand. You might maybe not be as into what you are doing. You might be forcing yourself to do something that deep down inside, you really do not want to do. I am not one for giving up, but at some point, you need to face the facts.

Or it could be that you are not equipped to do the work that you are supposed to do. Losing focus is often a sign that your self-confidence to complete the task is not what it is supposed to be. Having a discussion or two with a business coach could make a world of difference! And no, you are not a softy if you do decide to check in with a coach.

Getting your offspring back in from the cold

Let’s face it. Shit happens. No one can stay focused 100% of the time. (If you can, I would love to hear your story.) Whenever you realize your offspring are running around barefoot in the cold, it might be time to stop and think. Where did I lose the plot? Multitasking won’t make you more productive. Multitasking will probably lead to more mistakes. Getting your focus right, whether on the product or project that you are busy with, your target market, or just your day in general, the more you focus, the higher the results.

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