In many magazines, trainings or tutorials you find a hint that focusing is key for success. Particularly, when you start a business or you are going to discover new business opportunities and there is a huge amount of to dos that all seem to be important and attractive.
Fact is: you cannot go everywhere at the same time, especially if your resources are limited in terms of time, money or people. You need to focus on some activities if you want to achieve some good results.
In business there are often al lot of opportunities and areas where you could dedicate time and resources to. But, do you know this situation where it is difficult to decide? Where you ask yourself how and where to focus the best? What to do first?
Should you dedicate more time for communication issues or for production? For enlarging your network or for enhancing processes within your team? Should you get ready promotional material or visit a stakeholder conference first?
There is no clear answer to these issues. One thing might be in your focus now, but in three months it can be different. It may vary depending on your business’ status. Focusing means always to take a decision against other things and to concentrate your efforts on a few important steps to take.
How to decide what’s in your focus?
1. If someone asks you what is your main goal, how it ideally should look – what’s your answer? Can you describe it in one sentence?
This sounds very easy, but it is one of the most difficult exercises I know and worth to dedicate a workshop to it – together with your team. Focusing means you know where you want to go so that you can evaluate what is important for achieving this ‘big dream’ and what might be nice, but only secondary.
2. Once you know your vision, you need to identify the main activities for getting closer to your goal. Write all of them down. Put it into a written format. Visualizing helps you to recognize the number of needs and potentially nice steps to do.
These are too many? Identify those you can’t cut: the must be in place activities.
In a second step write down all needed, but not necessarily ‘life-saving’ areas. Identify maximum 2 activities to do for each of these area. If these activities contain a lot of sub- activities, just concentrate on the most important one.
This could look like this:
A) list things which are a must (finance-, legal- related) and add them to a timeline (year). Put milestones and dates.
B) Identify needed and ‘good-to-have things’, too, such as
Communications: prepare brochure and use for ….
Networking: visit conference x,y, topic: …
Marketing: design campaign
Own team: enhance motivation and plan a one day team workshop
Ready? Put some starting points and deadlines to each of them.
C) What about responsibilities? Add the names of persons who should do the job.
Work on this timeline as long as you and your team are convinced that this is really manageable. Integrate also some contingency time: 10 % of time is the minimum.
3. Voilá: That’s your plan you should focus on. If something happens that make you change idea, be aware that you have to cancel another activity for it. Simply ask: what is more important to the situation at the moment for getting closer to the ‘ big goal’ ?
Collect the opportunities you have missed and bring it on the table again when you re- work your big plan – once a year, together with your team.
Do you know other methods on how to focus in a transparent way? I’ d love to hear about them.
Focus – The Recipe for Success