Focus is one of the most important characteristics of successful founders and companies. The ability to stay focused despite the constant distractions of the startup life can very well make the difference between success and failure in a startup. Steve Jobs’ famous “Focus is about saying no” quote has set the tone for every founder that aspires to do remarkable things in life. As a founder, you are constantly reminded by advisors, , investors and even customers about the importance of staying focus on your product in order to achieve success.
However, lately I have been questioning the right level of focus that, as a founder CEO, you need to devote to a specific product or idea.
Here is my reasoning….
I put quite a big deal of effort on making sure my team stays focused every day on the task at hand. I spent a good part of my day getting rid of possible distractions that might affect our attention and focus. However, I’ve realized that, by staying to focus on a single product or problem, founders tend to shorten their perspectives about other alternatives to their product or services which, sometimes, results on missing opportunities that can make their products and company better. It is absolutely true that when you are too close to a specific problem or too deep into a specific execution path it gets really hard to look outside your world for creative alternatives.
Finding the right level of focus is an interesting dilemma that every founder should face. By not staying focus on your product you are certainly affecting your chances of being successful; however, staying exclusively focused on a specific product or idea might cause you to miss interesting opportunities to make your product even better.
What’s the right answer then?
There is no magic formula about the right level of focus a company or founder should have but I can think of a couple of tips that have worked for me. If I have to assign numbers to it, I firmly believe that a company should stay 110% focused on the execution of their products and services but, as a founder CEO, maybe your level focus should be around 90%.
As a startup founder or CEO, your primary job is to set the vision and strategy for the company and make sure your team can stay completely focused on executing on that vision. However, in order to setup the right strategies, I would advise to give yourself the time to get a “little distracted” by looking outside your window for interesting ideas or projects. In my opinion, a controlled level of distraction will help broaden your perspective in order to make your company better.
What do you think? How much focus is enough focus?