Business success requires focus

March 1, 2011 at 6:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 28, 2011 at 9:01 p.m.

There is a Japanese saying: "Chase two rabbits; catch none."

The huge volume of information and data that today's world throws at us can be overwhelming. Where do you focus your energy?

In a recent interview, a Twitter co-founder said he occasionally throws out his unanswered e-mails, declaring a form of e-mail bankruptcy. He sends out an e-mail blast to his audience saying, if the note was really important, to resend.

As counselors with the Small Business Development Center, we do our best to keep up with technologies, industries and trends that shape opportunities for entrepreneurs who walk into our office.

Yet, sometimes we are surprised to find ourselves going down yet another distracting rabbit trail.

Our training has given us frameworks that facilitate compartmentalization of client data into workable and manageable components, no matter the industry. We may know little about your hi-tech widget or the intricacies of your distribution system, but we know models and tools, and where they could fit.

The right tool for the job at hand could help propel your business in a direction that you have chosen and keep you from going down a pointless path. In short, the tools we offer help entrepreneurs focus.

The world is full of great ideas, great products and customers willing and able to buy. There is only so much time and money available, however, and an entrepreneur must decide where to apply energy, strengths and resources.

To help an entrepreneur avoid being overwhelmed, we use business modeling, mantras, SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, cash flow exercises, customer empathy maps, business planning, key performance indicators and other tools to help entrepreneurs get where they plan on going.

Counselors cannot do the work or the thinking for the entrepreneur, but we provide guidance and a way to develop roadmaps, or blueprints for a business. Focus is critical, yet you also have to change direction if warranted.

How can you get where you want to be? Gary Ryan Blair recently wrote about 10 rules that could help you avoid chasing too many rabbits and yet remind you to pivot when needed:

n Be decisive

n Stay focused

n Write down your goals

n Plan thoroughly

n Involve others

n Welcome failure

n Take purposeful action

n Inspect what you expect

n Reward yourself

n Maintain personal integrity.

So, as you begin the chase, follow these rules. And if you decide to involve others in your chase down the entrepreneurial rabbit trail, be sure to contact the UHV Small Business Development Center.

Eileen Bonner is a business advisor with the University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center.



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