If You Want to Win, Focus

If You Want to Win, Focus

Watching SharkTank (episode 23) and Robert Herjavec shared some very astute insight/advice with a pair of entrepreneurs who were trying to be and do too many different things, solve too many different problems:

“Man, you are fighting soooo many battles. Look, a guy that used to work for me, he was at one point the eleventh fastest man in the world. I run five miles a day so I used to say, ‘Hey, let’s go running.’ And he would say to me, ‘I can’t run five miles.’ I’d say, ‘Come on, man, you’re in great shape; you can run five miles.’ ‘I don’t run five miles. I run a hundred meters as fast as I can. That’s my job.'”

Back to the entrepreneurs, he continues…

“I’m not sure what your job is. You’re doing a performance shoe. Then you’re doing email software. Then you’re doing a NASCAR shoe. You’re fighting too many battles. If you want to win, just run the hundred meters. Focus.”

This is a problem a great many people in our industry suffer from as well.

They’re providing administrative support. Then they’re also trying to be in the web design business. And the bookkeeping business. And the graphic design business. And the desktop publishing business. And the marketing business. And the IT business…

They are fighting too many battles.

You don’t have to be this, that and the other, and trying to be will keep you from excelling, gaining traction and succeeding in any of them.

If you want to win, focus.

4 Responses

  1. Peggy Howard says:

    Thanks Danielle! Perfect timing on this advice. We all do it at some point; think we can help our clients with whatever they need. Actually, I’m still doing it with a couple clients but that may be a different issue!
    I’ve been trying to come up with my keyword, or key phrase for this year, and you have just given it to me. As soon as I read it, bells started clanging!

  2. That’s great, Peggy!

    Yup, I was guilty of it myself in my early years of business. As I stopped trying to be more than just an administrative expert, the better my business got, the more money I made, and the more time I had for my life.

    Where I think it comes from is that we try to take what we did, how we were treated in the workplace, into our businesses. So many employers would dump anything and everything onto the lap of the administrative assistant, because it was cheaper than hiring another employee or someone who was actually qualified. Being who we are, we thought it was fun and a challenge. But that doesn’t work in business and actually diminishes our perceived value because clients then think you are nothing but a gopher, not an expert. We need to remember that administrative support is a distinct expertise and specialization in and of itself. We don’t need to be and do everything else.

  3. Twanna Toliver says:

    Danielle –

    This makes so much sense and I remember this episode! I think the issue that I’m having is I’m skilled in many areas so I want to offer different services. Not sure why I can’t just be a small business consultant. I’m finding people need so much more that admin work that they can get an intern to do.

  4. Hi Twanna 🙂

    I am multi-skilled as well. That doesn’t mean it’s smart for me to try to be and do everything in my business.

    I used to have a bookkeeping division in my business and did bookkeeping for several years for just about all my clients. I only did it because at the time I thought it made sense to also support clients in that way. But I didn’t like it and I eventually sold off that portion of my business.

    I also have an art and design background and had a full web and graphic design division in my business as well. I couldn’t keep up with all the competing demands and the huge amount of creative time and mental switching of gears required to do that work AND do a good job taking care of my retained admin clients at the same time. I still love doing creative work–I just don’t do it as a business anymore.

    I am also very knowledgeable and skilled when it comes to video production/editing, but same thing–I do it for myself as a creative outlet, but I don’t have the time or interest to do it as a business. I’ve got plenty enough on my plate simply taking care of my monthly retained admin clients.

    I was trying to “fight too many battles” for clients and that’s not my job in life or business and actually made it more difficult to grow my business and make more money.

    I learned that the hard way. Once I stopped trying to be all things to all people, only then did I really start making REAL money in my business.

    That’s because in focusing on one expertise, I wasn’t distracting myself with a million other things and no longer had to constantly switch mental gears which is time and energy-draining. In focusing on one thing–admin support–people stopped viewing me as a gopher/flunky-of-all-trades and instead saw me as an expert. When that’s the case, they expect and are much more happy to pay expert level fees, so I was able to charge more and make better money. And by focusing on one expertise, perhaps most important of all, I provided greater value and much better work for clients because I wasn’t distracting myself with this, that and the other.

    The other byproduct of focusing (i.e., stop trying to be EVERY kind of business in the world and just be ONE business) is that you profit in terms of greater discretionary time, also known as FREE TIME. Because when you’re doing too many disparate things and trying to be everything to everyone, you have no time for a life and you end up working around the clock trying to meet all your commitments.

    You may have seen this recent post of mine about my journey here:


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