One of my clients, a small software company in Detroit, had this a-ha moment in our recent quarterly session. “With great power comes great responsibility. We have great power (talent on our team), and we’re not being responsible because we aren’t focusing it effectively.”
Fortunately, they have great people on their team that fit into their culture and are extremely talented. Unfortunately, several team members are bringing in too many new ideas and opportunities for the team feasibly to pursue.
The Problem of New Business Ideas
Why is this a problem? After all, we need new opportunities and ideas to continue growing the business. The problem is that these new ideas cause the team to constantly shift priorities. As a result, delivery deadlines began to slip. Customers became unhappy. This sent the team into a reactive, firefighting mode, trying to patch up the work that wasn’t completed to the customer’s standards or on schedule.
Jim Collins, author Good to Great, sums it up nicely: “When things are really clicking for an organization...you are more likely to die of indigestion of too many opportunities than you are of starvation of not enough.” In simpler terms, less is more.
We revisited the team’s business decision-making process and found that they weren’t 100% on the same page with it. They gained clarity on this by fleshing out their answers and ultimately agreeing on two things:
- The company’s purpose, or passion. In other words, why does the company exist? This is bigger than just a goal, and it’s not just about money.
- The company’s niche. What is the one thing the company is truly great at?
The combination of these two questions forms your company’s sweet spot, or Core Focus. Once your Core Focus is clear, every decision must be made with it in mind.
The Core Focus then becomes a filtering and guiding mechanism that will help you stay away from the distractions of “shiny stuff.” If something doesn’t fit, stop doing it.
Core Focus Drives Business Decisions
These questions are simple, but they’re not always easy to answer. Once the team agreed on their answers to these two questions, they were able to make business decisions to align their time, energy, and money where it really matters and where they can achieve the greatest impact.
Truth be told, you’re doing some things in your business that don’t fit your sweet spot. Make sure your leadership team is clear on your company’s Core Focus by answering the two questions above. And if you discover that something you’re doing doesn’t fit, stop doing it.
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This article originally appeared on the GPS for Small Business blog on September 9, 2016.