The Most Important Skill To Hone This Holiday Season Is Learning To Focus

Learning To Focus

Photo credit to Flickr user Michael Dales

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my time in business, it’s that you’re better off doing one thing really well – instead of doing ten things in a mediocre manner.

In business, only the best ideas succeed – so if the execution of your idea isn’t great because you’ve become side-tracked with lots of other ideas, you could be on the fast road to failure.

Before I started in business, I found it really easy to focus. In school, focusing entailed locking myself in a quiet room with no TV and no radio, until my homework was finished. Focusing seemed super easy to me.

As a business owner, however, I’ve found focusing to be a lot more difficult. Not because of distractions like TV or radio – but because of distractions in my own mind, usually new business ideas! It’s really easy to run away with yourself and suddenly wind up trying to make a whole handful of ideas work, when really you should be learning to focus on just one.

At one point, I found myself trying to re-launch two existing websites, launch two brand new websites, and research and develop my own brand of cosmetics. I was spreading myself too thin – none of my projects were progressing, and I realized I was doing everything wrong.

Instead of doing multiple things at once, I found focusing on one area at a time was the key to making the very most of my time. Prioritizing tasks wasn’t easy, but it had to be done – and my business is better for it!

Three reasons for learning to focus:

Waste less money on failed projects

The number of times I’ve turned round and realised I’ve spent a few hundred (or even a few thousand) bucks on a business idea that never got off the ground, is often (and heart breaking) to say the least. At a conservative estimate, I’d say I’ve wasted probably low five figures on silly ideas and concepts that were doomed to fail for one reason or another.

How have I wasted that kind of money on rubbish ideas? Well, domain registrations, logo design, website design, trademark registrations and so on. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to work on an idea all guns blazing – it’s much more sensible to take a few days or even weeks to mull the idea over first.

As a businessman, I like to think I’m fairly frugal and stingy with my money – but when I look at how much cash I’ve wasted on hair brain schemes, it really does make me feel ashamed. So next time you come up with an idea that you’re convinced is going to conquer the world, make sure you have the wherewithal to see it through – or save your money and don’t bother pursuing it at all.

Focus gives you incentive to complete one project before moving to the next

Another reason why focus works for me, is because it drives me to see projects through to fruition. I know when I’ve finished one, there’s another waiting for me!

I love nothing more than to get stuck into something new, so knowing that the end of one project means the beginning of another is all the motivation I need to work as hard as I possibly can, every single day.

Instead of having three or four projects on-going, I find it easier to have just the one. It means I can put all of my effort and thought into that one project until it’s off the ground – it has more chance of succeeding and a greater chance of becoming profitable for me.

The idea of projects being sequential works for me, too. It means I can split my bigger business ideas down into smaller components. For example with my cosmetics brand, I could focus on developing a brand identity first – then look at launching products. Once I launched products (let’s say, eyelashes), I could then look at launching another range – like make-up brushes for example.

Breaking bigger tasks down into smaller, more manageable chunks can really help with focus and your overall productivity.

Easier to budget

I’ve already discussed the idea that you’ll waste less money by focusing on one project at a time, but I also want to look at how it’s easier for you to budget. Literally every new project I work on brings with it unexpected costs – those costs can quickly mount up. It’s much more beneficial only having to deal with unexpected costs from one idea, as opposed to dealing with unexpected costs from four or five different ideas all at the same time.

Any seasoned business owner will tell you that budgeting is the secret to success. While budgeting in business is never an exact art, increased focus on just one business idea or project means you budget is likely to be closer to what you have to spend in reality.

Start your own ideas bank!

On a daily basis I usually have at least two or three ideas for my business – but nowadays instead of acting impulsively and trying to bring those ideas to life immediately, I write them down in a little notebook.

I can revisit the ideas as often as I like, scribbling out the really silly ones and highlighting those that might just work.

There are lots of people out there who advocate an ‘all guns blazing’ approach to business. In my opinion, while shooting from the hip is often the done thing, you have to take a measured approach to executing new ideas and projects when you already have a number of tasks on your plate.

But it all starts with being able to focus.

Have other skills you recommend for ecommerce entrepreneurs to learn? Leave them in the comments!

Nick Whitmore Nick Whitmore is a regular contributor to the Sellbrite Ecommerce Blog. He sold his first item online at the age of 10 and now runs an ecommerce cosmetics business and a monthly ecommerce subscription service. Nick’s specialties range from content and digital marketing to procurement and logistics.