What if we shared a proven recipe that can increase your likelihood of startup success to 50% instead of just 10%?In fact, you probably already know many of the vital ingredients. The problem is that founders often choose to focus on what’s fun and sexy, instead of what it really takes to grow a sustainable business.In this book you will find the hands-on tools and strategies, that founders like you used on their journey of building successful international companies. It will help you to put a structure behind your efforts, so you can max out your results on a consistent basis.
Navigating a world of distraction
The main or central point of attention or interest
The carrying out of a plan, an order or a course of action.
In the first three chapters, we explored the importance of setting a strong basis for a productive culture. You define your purpose, vision and values, create clarity around the roles and responsibilities in the team and adopt an outcome-driven mindset where consistent planning is a priority. But even if you master all this, nothing will get done unless you execute. Every day, you need to be relentless in your execution, to produce results in the core focus areas you have defined.
It’s more difficult than ever to stay focused. We simply have too many choices and possibilities. Choice abounds not only in terms of the product features to build and the customer segments to target through a startup, but in the life of a founder overall, such as where to live, whom to date and how to spend free time.
It’s easy to get distracted. We have mobile computers in our pockets. Using your smartphone, you can download billions of applications, consume limitless content and buy anything you can think of in just a few clicks. We’re addicted to technology. If you’re checking your phone in the first 15 minutes after waking up, you’re just like 80% of all humans. According to a study, we spend 3 hours and 15 minutes a day on our smartphones.
We switch between computer applications around 600 times a day. We check our emails more than 11 times an hour. A Harvard study88 found that we spend 47% of our waking hours thinking about something other than what we are doing.
Think about all the hours of lost productivity. You have no time to lose: You need to cut out the distractions. With less than 10% startup survival rate,89 you should be conscious about every minute and invest it carefully in activities that bring results.
Focus and execution are closely linked and both crucial to master as an entrepreneur. This chapter teaches you how to smoothly and efficiently turn your plans and goals into results.
Raising your standard of execution
No one built a great company with a great idea but mediocre execution. Conversely, if you have a reasonable idea and a committed team with a tenacious spirit, you have a much greater chance of success. The higher your standards of execution, the better you become at understanding what works and what doesn’t and where should your focus go.
It’s worth remembering that it often takes a lot more effort than we expect to achieve results. Stoyan is a co-founder and partner in a company for high-end mastermind90 experiences and business retreats: Samodiva Masterminds. When Samidova launched its first product, a seven-day mastermind retreat, the team had only two months to sell the tickets.
Stoyan thought the places would get filled easily. After all, the team had designed an amazing product, an experience they themselves would have jumped on the chance to attend. They had invited international speakers, booked 5-star hotels and combined adventures and fun activities with in-depth personal growth sessions and workshops, all at a reasonable price. So why wouldn’t people pay for it?
As no bookings came in during the first few weeks, they had to face the facts:
They had dropped the ball when it came to marketing.
No one knew what the event was and why they should care.
Due to the short deadline, pre-payment had been required for most of the logistics. That investment was at stake. The team had a deadline and a clear goal: ”Attract 12 quality participants to the retreat”. There was no time to lose.
During the remaining weeks, Stoyan personally reached out to more than 1,400 people from his network, talking about the event, inviting them to participate and asking for feedback and referrals. He ran online campaigns. He was obsessed. He used any opportunity to reach the goal, working every minute of the day. These were some of the most hectic weeks he’d ever lived through. It was intense, but it paid off. Samodiva managed to attract 12 quality participants91 for the retreat and had a great proof of concept.
Three key lessons came out of this experience:
Lesson 1: The fewer the priorities, the better the focus
For two months, Stoyan had one major goal, clearly defined and sealed with a deadline. Since his attention wasn’t scattered in different directions, it was easier to build momentum and achieve the goal.
No more than three: Focus at Circle
“As a founder you need to learn to focus,” stresses Melissa Rosenthal, co-founder at SMS-tech platform Circle and former Executive Vice President at Buzzfeed. “At any given time in your startup you only have two or three things you should really focus on.
At Circle, at the moment they are:
- Making the product the best it can be
- Understanding how the users are using it and iterating accordingly
- Customer acquisition
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