Single Focus for Better Results

Have you heard the story about the guy who jumped on his horse and rode off in all directions? You can’t accomplish everything at once, and you can’t accomplish ten things at the same time. Obvious, right?

All too often, small business owners try to accomplish too many things and wind up not doing anything well. Varying the products and services your company offers is fine, but there is a time and place for diversification.

When a lion stalks its prey, it picks one animal out of the herd and focuses solely on it. Other animals can run right in front of the lion, but its eyes will stay focused on the one it picked out. When the lion has finished its meal, it can then focus on something else.

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Many companies try to ride off in all directions. They have so many ideas that they keep skipping from one to another and finish none of them.

One man, a brilliant engineer, solicited my advice about one of his ideas. His ideas are really big; no one will ever accuse him of thinking small. His head is filled with ideas for products. Unfortunately, staying focused on one idea at a time is a problem for him. We discussed the “lion focus” concept. His response was, “Yeah, yeah, I get it!”—but then he immediately launched off on another tangent. I declined to work with him because I knew it would be a waste of his money since he never finishes what he starts.

Another example of a lack of focus is trying to run too many businesses at the same time. I’ve met people who try to run two, three, or even four businesses in different industries at the same time. That may work if you are a large conglomerate with thousands of employees, but it doesn’t work well for a small business.

You’ve heard the adage “jack of all trades, master of none.” Build one business that operates at peak efficiency, profitability, and cash flow first, and then consider other ideas and businesses.

Calfkiller Brewing Company in Sparta, Tennessee, is a prime example of executing one idea, and one business, really well, and then gradually adding more varied products. Don and Dave Sergio love beer. They first learned to brew beer in their kitchen for personal use. Friends liked their beer, so the brothers converted a barn into a larger-scale brewing operation. Gradually the operation expanded, and they began brewing larger quantities for sale to local area bars and restaurants. Initially, they had only one beer, Grassroots Ale. Then they added J. Henry Original Mild, and they continue to add new beers to their product offering.

They have perfected their craft and now have a five-year plan to open their own inn, restaurant, and brewery on the Calfkiller River, providing a dock for kayaks and canoes. The brothers are progressing one step at a time and realistically planning each step. They are

DWITs (people who Do Whatever It Takes). DWITs have “lion focus.”

Be a DWIT with lion focus.

Another example of focusing on one business or idea until it is perfected and then moving on is Olio Tasting Room. In 2011, Penny Williman opened with one store in Alexandria, Virginia, offering olive oil products.

With the first store operating at peak efficiency and profitability, she opened a second. Gradually, Olio expanded its product lines to include pastas, sauces, teas, sea salts, tapenades, specialty condiments, and more. Penny did one thing well—olive oil in one store—before graduating to other stores and products.

Focus on the one product, service, store, or idea until it is perfected and successful in the market. When you do that, you will make some money, and that money will enable you to offer other products or services.

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