The more I learn about venture creation and how projects start, the more I realize how important focus is.
I’ve had the joy of talking with dozens of founders in the last few weeks and I’ve been impressed with how focused many of them are. They clearly understand the problem they’re solving.
At the earliest stages, you can only afford to serve one audience and to solve one specific problem.
There are a few things that are really hard about focusing though.
- Loss aversion. The more narrow our focus gets the more we feel like we’re missing out on other opportunities that are out of scope. Losing out feels bad. So we try to stay open! But open often leads to distraction.
- New stuff is exciting. People in the startup world generally stay pretty up to date on what’s being funded, what’s launching, what is growing fast, etc… Staying in tune with the market is fine, but it can sometimes turn into distraction with what’s new and hot.
- The finite market fallacy. The more focused you are, the smaller your market starts to look and this can be discouraging. In reality, the challenge is capturing and dominating that market. Once you do that, you can expand into adjacent markets. But if you can’t win the small market, you won’t win a bigger one.
In short, focus is really hard because it feels like you’re giving up lots of opportunities, you’re seeing other stuff that looks “cooler” and you’re not sure there’s any pay off.
Focus on the right things. Be really clear. And enjoy the process!