What’s the key to success in business?

A good friend of mine, Taylor Pearson, is the most avid reader of business books that I’ve ever met. After reading 188 books – yes, 188 books – about business, he realised he was able to summarise all of them in one word:

Focus.

I’ll let him explain:

Though it traipses around under many different names from ADD to Shiny Object Syndrome, there appears to be a natural, human tendency to divide our most valuable asset: time.”

Time is just as scarce of a resource now as it was two thousand years ago. With the insidiously subtle pressure of modern technology on our time, it’s increasingly difficult to hold onto.”

In fact, you can build a library of books which all expound on this. Focus. Honing down. Selling something specific. Doing something specific.

Focus. TourismTiger does websites for local tourism businesses. This is fine, but I think the principal of focus goes even further on this.

There are two things, in my opinion, that require unremitting focus:

What you do and what you do.

 

What you do: Your business needs a clear, definable focus so people know what the heck it is you’re selling. A clearly defined value proposition. Take our client Outlaw Canoe: They have been in business for 35+ years and they literally do ONE thing – float people down the same stretch of river in Nebraska. It’s impressive, it’s clear, and they’re rewarded.

But while that first aspect comes naturally to many tour operators, it’s the second aspect which doesn’t:

What you do: As a business owner, one of my dominant emotions is guilt. Any single day, there are 40 different things that I can be doing. My website, TourismTiger, sucks right now. I want to invest in it. I have a content manager I feel desperately guilty for not investing enough time into. Guilt. For all of our clients, I want to spend more time tweaking fonts and colors. Guilt!

Yet it’s this feeling which can be your downfall.

Because one thing more than any other, it’s the people whose actions have focus that grind ahead. Business success isn’t an event. It’s a game of inches and yards gained each day which in the space of years turn into miles. This video is one of the best metaphors for business I’ve ever seen:

The race is won by the tiny amount of water gained in every single stroke. Yet, imagine if the above video were slowed down so that instead of lasting 3 minutes, it lasted 3 years. It would not be a riveting exercise (or even close). What I’m trying to emphasize here is that this is not fun. It’s boring. It’s the elephant you eat with every bite. It’s the grind. It’s the thing you don’t feel like doing today.

Back to my friend Taylor:

The phenomenon has masqueraded under many a different name in many a different domain, but the fundamental principle is that the most effective individuals and organizations can categorize everything they do using a binary system:

  • Figuring out what to focus on
  • Focusing on it”

For my business, our focus for growth is content marketing. This is why every single week, no matter what is happening (and let’s be clear, every week has its own, unique brand of craziness), I publish a blog post.

It’s my focus. It’s my clear, defining action. Like the kayaker who is pushing forward, the swimmer who gets up and spends 4 hours each morning back and forth in a pool, it’s my grind. What’s yours?

I’ll leave it here, but there’s one last thing I want to touch on. Nearly everyone I’ve ever known always overcompensates out of the guilt they feel. No blogging? I’m going to blog every single day! What?

I’m no guru but I want to encourage you in this: find your small step, and hit it, day in, day out. The rest can wait.

 

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