Diary of a Start-Up: The Challenge to Keep Your Business FocusedJanuary 8th, 2010 | KikScore & KikReport,Online & Small Business Resources,Small Business,Small Business Tips | 6 Comments »
As we at KikScore roll into 2010, we are proud of everything we were able to accomplish in 2009. We launched KikScore. (See Diary of a Start-Up I) Our blog went live. People actually visited our site! Actually a lot more than we expected and from some interesting parts of the world. And we really took the big plunge into social media. Simultaneously, we are constantly working on gathering feedback from our customers and making changes and enhancements based on that feedback.
So what is the issue facing us in 2010? One word – FOCUS – or better yet the challenge to focus.
We have a lot going on at KikScore. For example, we are in the process of developing an exciting extension to the KikScore product that we hope to launch in the next 30 days, we are fixing and enhancing the KikScore product based on customer feedback, we are dealing with customer service issues, we are in partnership discussions and we are redesigning our marketing site at www.kikscore.com. We also have multiple tracks of product enhancements that are being prioritized and slotted in for development. And this list is not even near exhaustive of what we have going on.
So as we began 2010, we took our heads out of the weeds and said its time to climb to that proverbial mountain at 30,000 feet so we could take a broader view of KikScore, our product, all of the activity and the daily grind so we could figure out what do we need to focus on. In all honestly, this was probably the first time in a while where we did the “focus” analysis. The reason is as a start-up, especially an early stage one, you keep focusing on getting your product out to the market. Once the product goes live, then you are just overwhelmed to some degree with enhancements, customer and market feedback, service issues etc that can test your start-up’s ability to focus.
So this is what we have begun to do and I would recommend that if you are a start-up you may want to do something similar. Also the key is to periodically update, measure and track progress of your focus against each of these items below.
1. Goals. As a team, set your near-term and long term goals. Near term can be 30-90 days. Long term is 1-3 years. Keep them in a place where the entire team can review them.
2. Activities. Then create a list of the activities that flow up to the goals. Make sure every activity can be tied to the goals otherwise that activity should be eliminated.
3. Turbo Activities. From the list of activities try to determine which activities do you get the most out of and that with all things being equal get you closer to that goal at a faster rate. I call these Turbo Activities because they can really turbocharge you to achieve your goals faster. So for example, we at KikScore recently uncovered an approach that may really help us with customer acquisition. Customer Acquisition is a very important near and long term goal of ours and we have various activities that help us with customer acquisition. But this method stood out and so just this week we thought lets really focus our efforts using this method and see where that gets us for acquiring more customers.
4. Regular Update. As a startup works through these turbo activities and regular activities, while also dealing with new issues that come up each day, it is critical that the team on a regular and periodic basis assess where the business is at in regards to the goals. As the activities, objectives and goals change over time, your start-ups focus may have to adapt and be flexible. But while I say that, you must also be careful to not have the red herrings pop up and that push you to focus on the wrong things or to lose your focus. This is a delicate dance that each start up needs to be careful to balance so they maintain the right focus to meet their goals.
5. Team Accountability. Each team member needs to also dedicate themselves to keeping themselves honest and other team members true to focusing the start-up. Without team members acting as a check for themselves and other team members, a start-up runs the risk of losing that focus. One of the ways to help ensure that team members are keeping each other focused is asking a simple question during internal discussions: Do you think that activity will get us closer to accomplishing one or more of our goals?
In the end, so much of focus for a start-up can be boiled down to the 80/20 rule. So often 20% of your activities and work, will end up getting your startup 80% of the results that you need. Remember this when you try to keep your focus to growing your start-up!
How do you keep your business focused?