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Why Does Focus Count?

Most people, usually, have the best intentions.

Why does it seem like creating a bunch of products, to hedge bets, makes sense when it doesn’t? Mainly, my belief is because it hedges bets.

If you put enough products out in to the market, eventually something is bound to work, right?

Not so much.

Start-ups are typically bound by cash they have on hand. You can only hire so many resources before you start to top out. You can only get them to do so much work before they start to burn out. Why try to get them all spinning on multiple things at once instead  of a clean set of priorities all geared around a single problem?

You have a limited amount of time – don’t mess around.

As opposed to trying to make it all work, it’s better to adopt a strategy of focusing and pivoting. A change in direction.

This drives entire teams to focus on the same problem and market opportunity. It means everyone can work together to create the best solution they are capable of – not waste time with conflicting direction, constantly unclear direction, and so on. In addition, it means your top folks aren’t split.

Why risk putting yourself in to a spot where your CTO, COO and other key team members need to start splitting their attention to the products that yell the loudest? Let them worry about a single long-term vision and how to execute on that. If they are thinking about three or four, they will be hard pressed to make a real go of it.

You may think it’s still possible, or wise, to run with a larger product portfolio with the constraints of a start-up if you setup multiple teams – developers, QA, product, ops, etc… Again, the logic is harmless enough – if everyone is working on their own things, it means they have focus, right?

Yes and no.

Again, in my opinion, why spend capital setting this up when everyone can just work together? If your market opportunity is too large, it might be time to look at narrowing it down to something more digestible. Really get that problem well crafted and understood. After all, if you can’t solve one smaller problem, how do you expect to solve four or five?

Keep it small and keep it simple. And if it’s not working, find another small and simple problem to solve and change course. There’s no shame in that – or harm. It’s better for everyone to have a single mindset and all be working on the same goals.

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  • Brian Jemail

    Agreed. You still need to segment teams sometimes. Agile methodologies might apply to smaller teams, but I am not crazy about it. I always like to think of teachings found in Brooks Law, even when the case or industry does not fully apply.