Looking back over my entrepreneurial career I found that almost every time a business didn’t succeed, it was because of the same thing: I got distracted by big projects and stopped focusing on my ideal client. When talking to a few of my colleagues I realised I was not alone.
When we start out, we are very focused, clear on what we’ll be doing and who we will be serving. Then suddenly we are offered a very lucrative opportunity and even though its not an exact match to our initial plan, we grab at this bright and shiny offer. Why? We’re human, we get distracted and more is quite the temptress.
The big issue here is that we do not always think about the full impact this distraction has on our business or how the loss of focus will delay or halt our plans. Imagine a continuum with Focus on one end and Distraction on the other. As you get closer to one, you naturally move away from the other. While we want to stay focused, distraction works in many ways to get you over to the dark side of the continuum. These moments of distraction are sneaky, but when you can spot them, it is a lot easier to make informed decisions that ensure the longevity of your business and your brand.
Here are 3 of the biggest Distraction Moments to look out for.
1. An All-Inclusive Niche:
Here you have the noble intention of wanting to include as many people as possible. The truth is that you really aren’t trusting yourself enough to narrow your focus to a specific target audience. Perhaps your service could be aimed at a variety of people but you aren’t sure who your best bet will be, so you simply include everyone. While I understand this, the biggest concern here is that when you try talking to everyone, you really talk to no one.
HOW TO SOLVE THIS: Look at your audience and note the larger brackets. This is usually with something like age, gender or any other distinction that can influence their point of view around your product or service. For example, the way a women at 18 thinks about love is very different, compared to a woman of 26 or 32. So, divide these instances into smaller brackets by asking when their point of view changes. When you do this, you may notice that while the larger bracket could use your service, a much smaller group is really ready for it. That is who you want to FOCUS on.
2. Shiny Object Syndrome:
You launch your business with a specific goal in mind, then you get asked to a meeting or you meet someone at a networking event and they tell you about what they need based on what they believe your skill set to be. They offer a reasonable or even an above reasonable monetary incentive. So what’s the problem? Nothing, as long as they match your your client or value proposition criteria. If not, they might be distracting you from your ultimate goal and taking on the project will mean losing sight of where you want to take your business and the passion that is driving it.
HOW TO SOLVE THIS: Become ruthless with who work with. I understand we all have an end-of-the-month, so do what you need to, but leave enough space to grow in the direction you are aiming for. Don’t get seduced by what others want you to do for them. It will only leave a bad taste in your mouth.
3. Audience Assumption:
This is a dangerous one that usually happens when you have a business idea and assume that a particular audience will value it. While most of us start with a certain amount of assumption about our audience, you do need to put your ear to the ground and be open to the fact that you might be wrong. From this starting point of general assumption, you must become open to learning about, and from, your audience, allowing you to confirm certain theories and debunk others. A better understanding of your ideal client gives you heaps of information to adapt to their requirements.
However focusing on the product and not the client, is a form of distraction. You are not able to craft a solution just for them and you run the high risk of creating something that no-one wants.
HOW TO SOLVE THIS: Consider that you might be wrong. The person who you thought would value your product or service might not be the best fit. Look at it from their point of view and honestly see where you can adjust or redefine your audience. Then adjust your value proposition in order to better serve this newly defined target client.
Staying focused on your ideal client doesn’t mean you adorn yourself with metaphorical blinkers and only see them. Instead, it challenges you to commit to building a relationship with your client so that you may understand them, their needs and how you can help them.
So the lesson here is to stay focused on what is most important, on the things that are going to grow your business and brand. Get clear on your niche and do your best to stay on course. Remember that your client does not want to be picked out of a lineup, they want to feel chosen and special. It is your job to make them feel that way. The magic is that when you truly commit to this level of focus, your ideal client will find you.