The Importance of Focus

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while, but just hadn’t had quite the right angle to write a post. This past weekend, courtesy of a teething toddler, it finally came to me!

The concept of “focus” and how frayed it seems to be so often these days is something I’ve been pondering a lot lately. Whether it is the constant siren song of social media or just trying to stay on the right path for your business, today’s world is full of so many shiny objects, it can be hard to maintain focus. It is easy to want to wander down every path that seems as if it might hold promise. And in some ways, venturing off the beaten path can be a great choice, but not if it comes at the expense of your core beliefs, or in the case of business – truly valuable skills and offerings.

So how did my toddler help me reach this epiphany? Well, she was having a rough morning and none of the usual methods for distracting her or calming her down were working. After a dicey night’s sleep the night before, we were all desperate for something to make things better. A ha! She loves dogs – let’s turn on Animal Planet and see if we can find a show about dogs (or anything dog-like). Now, when you turn on Animal Planet, you’re expecting to find shows about animals, right? I mean, it is right in the name… Not so fast! Perusing the schedule for Animal Planet, I quickly realized that their actual animal programming is getting squeezed out by various reality type shows that are only marginally, if at all, about animals. Some examples of this fare:

  • Ice Cold Gold
  • Wildwest Alaska
  • Treehouse Masters
  • Gator Boys
  • Railroad Alaska

Are you sensing a theme yet? Surprised that the theme is not, in fact, animals?

I’ve had a similar frustration with The Weather Channel this winter. Been one of the coldest and snowiest winters in a long time – not just here in the east, but all across the country. We have had to pay much closer attention to the weather this winter than usual, since snow is highly disruptive. So, when a big storm was brewing and I wanted to know the forecast for PA, where did I turn? The Weather Channel, of course! And what did I often find when I tuned in to The Weather Channel looking for important information? You guessed it – more reality programming.

So, what is my point with all of this? It is important to remember WHY your audience or customers value you and your expertise. The Weather Channel is supposed to be the place to go for the best weather information. When I need weather information and I turn on The Weather Channel and find an eight hour marathon of Prospectors running instead of providing me with their core service, I get seriously annoyed and I am forced to find the information I need elsewhere. When faced with the need for weather information the next time a storm is brewing, I am now less likely to turn on The Weather Channel and more likely to turn to an alternate information source to be sure my needs are met.

Your clients and customers are the same way! If you have built your reputation on providing a particular service or set of services or a specific line of products, be sure to maintain the level of quality and service for your core offerings. I’m not saying that you should never expand beyond what you’re doing now. But, when and if you do, make sure it is not at the expense of what has historically brought customers to you up until this point. If you want or need to transition away from your traditional offerings, do so with a plan to roll out these changes in ways that make sense. Don’t just run off in a totally new, and potentially seemingly unrelated direction, without a plan.

And remember, more isn’t always better. Some times it is just more. And more, without focus, can seriously dilute your message, service and success. It seems to be harder to do these days, but maintaining a focus on your goals, and measuring each decision you must make against those goals is still a winning strategy!

What about you? Do you find it is harder to maintain focus these days? What are some of your favorite techniques that help you stay on the right path for your business?



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