From the time we’re born, we’re told what to do, how to do it and when to move on to the next task. For those that choose to start their own companies, very little that we’ve been taught, learned or done in life teaches us how to manage the vastness of figuring out what is most important in your company. On any given day, everything is important and everything needs to be done. For those with very early stage startups, sometimes you’re the only one around, available or willing to work for free.
Yet, if you can’t figure out how to focus on what is the most important thing you should be working on, your company will never get off the ground. The most important part of your job any given day, week, month or quarter might be something you dread. Unfortunately, with so many options of what to focus on, it seems that too often people gravitate toward the pieces they enjoy or are good at. No one likes to fail. In the uncertain world of startups where what you are working on might not show results for months or years, its seductively easy to fall back on what you know.
Figuring out tricks to overcome this paralysis will make the difference in success or failure. Maybe you are a programmer running your first company. At some point, you’re going to have to figure out how to raise money. While it’s easy to keep putting off the process of raising capital, because “one more bug needs to be fixed” or “one more new feature is going to make the difference”, lack of capital will ultimately starve your company.
My mantra for the month is focus. Focus on the single most important thing in your business at this moment and be awesome at it. That central item might change weekly, but figure out what it is, focus on it and do not waver. Create a thesis and tests that will indicate whether you’re on the right track. Typically, it’s not what you think it is. Ask people outside your circle, company or friends what they think you should be working on. Relentless pursuit of building something is great, but make sure your energy is being spent on what’s important and not what’s easy or convenient.