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You can’t do everything. In fact, you shouldn’t even try. The trading machine has perpetuated the misconception that if you don’t take advantage of every new idea and trend, you won’t progress. To feel like you’re following everything you see on your social feed pushes your business to drive in so many different directions that you can’t speak clearly about what you’re doing, let alone know what should earn your time. and what should not.
Because when everything is priority, nothing is. To run an effective business, you need to focus on creating value for the people you serve – and delivering that value better than anyone else.
Related: You Can’t Do Everything, And If You Try, You’ll Do Even Less
Do everything ≠ growth
I walked into a software company with a firecracker CEO who had all cylinders on, ready to grow, grow, grow. After a few conversations with members of his team, I asked, “So why are you all here again?” Between the CEO, advisory board, investors, consultants, and senior team members, the company had so many priorities, new ideas, and different directions that it couldn’t gain traction on any of them. they.
I knew that without a more deliberate approach, the business would either start in the trendiest direction, wander off course, then restart with a new idea – or try to do all things simultaneously and push until she completely stalls with her frustrated and burnt-out team.
Running a business that’s trying to roll in all directions doesn’t drive productive progress, and it certainly doesn’t drive long-term growth. No team wants to spend their time and effort on projects that lead nowhere or have so many competing priorities that they frantically try to cross things off the list. And they certainly don’t seek to join other unnecessary meetings in the name of being on the same page. To cut through the noise and be truly productive, you need to focus.
Related: Most of what you’ve read about the company’s purpose is wrong
Filter the noise
Your focus comes from your goal. As a business, you must exist to provide value to the people you serve. Delivering that value is the goal of creating that new product, hosting more educational webinars, or embracing the latest technology. Delivering value is the raison for what you do. And it’s one that your whole team can use as a filter for the choices they make.
In the case of the software company, they dug deep into what matters to their customers and defined their goal: to advance the way we communicate complex information. Then they evaluated their list of ideas and priorities to see which ones provided that value. They eliminated everything that was wrong.
Once you’ve filtered the options based on your purpose, you should also filter them based on your unique abilities, because you can’t be everything to everyone. The software company had a long history of developing popular graphics products, building strong relationships in verticals dealing with complex machinery and providing exceptional support.
After weeding out a number of items that didn’t fit their purpose, they looked at what was left through the filter of their unique abilities. Of all the ideas and directions they were considering, developing software that would allow everyone in a company to work with the same information on the same platform, in a visual format that makes it easy to understand, would be the most impactful.
Now you can add an additional filter to be even more specific and strategic: how you do things on this team in this culture. The software company valued speed. This led them to set up cross-functional teams that included writers. They could develop features and associated supporting documentation simultaneously and in smaller bursts, so their customers could start using them faster.
Once you know why you’re doing something and that you should be the only one doing it, you can filter your options through one final question: Does it create the world we’re here to build? Suddenly, not all ideas are good, even if you have a LOT of them. Not all priorities are really priorities and not all tasks are worth doing.
You have eliminated the noise. Leaving only the good pieces on the table, you can put all your effort and creativity into acting as efficiently and completely as possible.
Related: Staying in Your Lane: Why Startups Need to Stay Focused
Then work back to keep it out
Part of the reason we find ourselves trapped in idea flooding and priority competition is that we start our work in the wrong place. Most of us start with the tactic or idea: “We should start a podcast.” Sometimes we justify it: “Everyone has one, so why don’t we have a podcast?” Or: “If we don’t have a podcast, we won’t be successful.”
Sometimes we skip justification, and due to pressure from above or outside, we do things even though we don’t know why we are doing it. Instead of starting with the tactic, start with the point: “Does this action fulfill our objective? What is the result I want to achieve?” Then you can strategically assess whether a podcast will be an effective solution.
When I pitched the idea for a podcast, a member of the software company’s team said the goal was to reach people launching technical products to show them why visual communication makes them more efficient and effective. And it aligned with their goal of advancing the way we communicate complex information because they were spreading the word and involving more people.
Starting with the point, they determined that a podcast was a poor choice due to its audio-only nature. They ultimately decided to take opportunities to speak at relevant conferences where they could To displaynot say, through presentations and demos.
Starting with the point – whether it’s your business purpose or the purpose of a meeting, email communication or presentation – gives you a reason for what you choose to do and how you choose to do it. It provides the laser sharpness you need to be deliberate about what you choose to do and decisive in eliminating anything not worth your time.
Related: 4 key principles to stay on track and stay focused
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Jumping on every hot trend and saying “yes” to every bright idea keeps you busy, but that doesn’t mean you’re doing something productive to grow your business. And the worst part is, you’re probably wasting your team’s time with aimless meetings or projects they never needed to kick off.
Instead, start by asking, “What’s the point?” When you know the point – from why you exist as a business to what you need to do in that meeting – you have the focus to cut through the noise and move your business forward in a way that gets the most out of it. part of everyone’s time. Because running an efficient business is not about doing everything; it’s about doing the right things and doing them well.