A key element of any strategy is choosing what gets focus.
When I present a focused strategy, sometimes I get presented with a made-up word: Alsofocuson. As in, “I like the focus, but can we also-focus-on this other focus?”
No. You can’t. That’s the deal with focus. You can’t focus on thing “A” and alsofocuson thing “B.”
If you hire a photographer to take a picture of a cow, she can’t focus on the cow and alsofocuson that horse over there.
To focus on something also means to eliminate something else. This all seems pretty elemental until I ask the question “who don’t you want as a customer?”
“Great Caesar’s Ghost!!” the business owner says (my clients are all Perry White from Superman). “I want EVERYBODY as a customer!!”
This exercise isn’t to deny you the opportunity to sell things. It’s to cause you to think hard about who your customer is. And you can’t define who your customer is, without knowing who your customer isn’t. Who isn’t your product or service for? Knowing the answer to this will keep you from chasing every field mouse that runs in front of you.
All customers have money, but not all customers are profitable.
Red Lobster is for seafood lovers.
Southwest Airlines is for budget travelers who don’t want any frills.
Victoria’s Secret is for women who want high quality delicate underthings.
Red Lobster is NOT for people looking for inexpensive fast food.
Southwest Airlines is NOT for businesspeople who fly first class.
Victoria’s Secret is NOT for women looking for everyday cotton underwear.
Chasing those customers would not only be unprofitable, it would also be off-brand.
Yes, Red Lobster could sell pancakes and grilled cheese and make some money, but it would come at the expense of the seafood lovers.
Southwest Airlines could fly internationally and install first-class seats. But their loyal no-frills customers would feel “their” airline isn’t the same anymore.
Victoria’s Secret could make a buck and sell a 6-pack of white Hanes underwear, but that’s not very sexy or “secret.”
Entrepreneurs are brilliant at finding opportunities. Sometimes too brilliant.
Companies that focus win.
Companies that ALSOFOCUSON get distracted and crumble apart.
My company works with owner-operated businesses, typically under $5 million in revenue.
My company isn’t for places like banks, community organizations, or firms with layers of committees. Am I missing out? I have no idea. I don’t think about it.
I’m focused on a thing. I don’t ALSOFOCUSON the other stuff.