For so many entrepreneurs, their nemesis is The Other F-Word. Focus.
Why is that? Years ago, Oprah was interviewing Michael. He started singing off-the-cuff, then beat boxing, then tapping out a rhythm. It was insane how effortless it all was. Mr. Parker agreed. Then said something I’ll always remember: “Michael Jackson is a man who has spent his life doing exactly one thing. Just that one thing. Of course he’s great at it.”
There it was. Focus. Michael’s one thing. Yet, as an entrepreneur (and a creative entrepreneur at that) I’m always seeing ALL the things I could be doing—both inside our business and in addition to it. And, as someone who works with others on their businesses, it’s clear and obvious: entrepreneurs have trouble focusing.
I just had one client, in one sentence, talk about four different business efforts. Why? I’d asked one simple and focused question. It was about a single action item I’d given. A focused question. One simple subject. Four different answers. All four unrelated. None of them answering the original question.
The other night, I attended a video conference about how to be effective on LinkedIn. The presenter was great. Tons of actionable advice. He had it completely dialed in. For a moment I thought, Damn, I’m dropping the ball on LinkedIn. Then I thought back to Mr. Parker and Michael Jackson. This guy from the video chat is doing only one thing: kicking the living sh*t out of LinkedIn. That’s it. He better be great at it.
I run a marketing company that specializes in branding for small business. I’m allowed to not be amazing at LinkedIn. I’m allowed to pick one tip from the LinkedIn presenter and execute just that. I’m allowed to get a virtual assistant to handle a few of the other tasks that lead to a better LinkedIn network. And then, I’m allowed to focus back on the job of doing my job.
Recently, Mr. Parker and I began building a new product for Slow Burn Marketing. We feel it’s smart, timely and necessary. Our biggest challenge? Pushing aside all else while we’re getting this one thing up and running. The Fates are constantly flying out of their box, waving shiny keys at us. It’s so easy to look in their direction. But no! Must! Not! Look!
The solution to split focus? Stop. Feel the doubt and just stop. Switch off the phonograph. Let “The Sabre Dance” grind to a halt. Step away from all the plates you’re spinning. They will not smash to the ground. Look at them all. Which one plate is the next and only plate that your business should take on? Pick one task. One project. That’s it. Work on that one until it’s done and done well. Send all those other projects and great ideas to the sidelines. They’ll be waiting when you’re finished with your one thing. And, anything else that you can hand off and simply supervise? Just do it.
Remember, be like Michael Jackson.
Hope that helps. Cheers,
Aren’t we all tired of phrases like, “In these uncertain times”? Yes, we all know things are funky. But as small-business owners, we also know that there’s no such thing as “certain times.” When have you ever been guaranteed anything?
That said, things have shifted. For many business owners, it’s not for the better. We all have the same two options: 1) sit and wring our hands, or 2) engage in proactive change. Ah, yes, the C word. “Change.”
Change is not in most people’s comfort zone. But you and I are entrepreneurs. When we get uncomfortable, we thrive. We go in for another C word: “Chance”. So, take a chance and change.
During this COVID craziness, some of our favorite CoupleCos are making impressive changes to stay relevant and useful to their customers. The winery Phifer Pavitt is hosting virtual wine tastings. Alpine Distilling is making hand sanitizer. Freedom Chiropractic is offering virtual office visits through a HIPAA-compliant web portal. WatchTower Coffee & Comics is selling products via delivery, including their new, handcrafted Tongan Caramel sauce (which is also selling out, just by the way—it’s outstanding).
As you may know, our primary business is Slow Burn Marketing. We specialize in big-brand thinking for small-business marketing. And Slow Burn is making a pivot. Even before COVID hit, things here were slowing down. This was due in large part to me stepping back from the business to be there for my mother, whose health was declining. Mr. Parker was incredibly supportive. (Thank you, babe.)
But, with only half the manpower and half the skillset, our business felt the impact. My mother has now passed (thank you for your kind words and support), and we are faced with a new question: What next?
And there’s that catchphrase that keeps coming up: “These uncertain times.” We thought, hey, we started Slow Burn Marketing during The Great Financial Crisis of 2007-2008.” Uncertain times, indeed.
But, history shows that many new businesses (especially ad agencies) launch with great success in “uncertain times.” So, we’ve just decided that “these uncertain times” is code for “excellent opportunity.”
We’re in the process of creating a DIY branding book and online courses for the business owner launching or redefining operations in “these uncertain times.” These are the times when nervy entrepreneurs (nervypreneurs?) go out and do stuff.
But not all entrepreneurs, especially newbie-preneurs, understand branding. Many can’t afford the price tag that comes with being a Slow Burn client. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying to be useful or them from having access to credible brand thinking.
And frankly, now that we’re doing it, we’re asking ourselves why we didn’t do this sooner. But making a shift often requires taking a shove. We’ve been shoved, and we’re doing something good with it. (As I type this post, the book is just back from the proofreader. It’s very exciting.)
A big thanks to all of you who’ve inspired us by being proactive, making necessary shifts, pushing forward, even thriving in (yes) uncertain times. We wish you continued success.
Hope that helps
Are Blaine & Honey Parker Relationship Experts?
Hardly. And does the world really need more of those? Instead, we are a couple who have worked together for over 20 years. We've learned a few things along the way. And now, we're traveling the nation interviewing other couples in business together. Join us for the ups, downs, ins, outs, laughs, tears (even though Honey believes Blaine has no tear ducts), and the inevitable, practical insights into being a better couple--in life, business and everything.