There’s a widely common misconception that many businesses and entrepreneurs believe that the key to faster growth is to add more products, features and take on new projects, but that’s not the case.
The result of this mindset is many things getting done poorly rather than a few things done better.
Since there is no possible way to add more hours to their day, and since everyone, especially those starting out, has limited resources, there is no way that they can master several things at once.
The key here is to do fewer things better, and only then can you think about branching out more.
by Greg McKeown
⏱ 12 minutes reading time
🎧 Audio version available
Before they became the successful goliaths that they are today, these companies were just intensely focused startups.
Google had their search engine. Facebook was focused on friends networking. The same goes for Apple, and the list continues.
Apple founder Steve Jobs turned down the opportunity to start manufacturing Apple cars in 2006 to focus more on their successful product: the iPhone. It’s only now, in 2021, that the Apple car is becoming a reality, and it’s been in the works for years.
The point is to wait after that initial success builds resources; only then can you expand your horizons.
Less is More
When you start doing fewer things better, you’ll enjoy several benefits. With fewer essential things that you’re focused on, your vision’s actual execution will be a lot easier. You’ll no longer have a dozen and dozens of KPIs, which are “key performance indicators” to focus on.
Instead, you have two or three metrics to improve.
There aren’t ten or fifteen projects on your tasks to monitor with reports. The few projects that you’re working on have a better chance of making a significant impact.
And you no longer have dozens of tasks cluttering your schedule or to-do list. This means what you can find time to get meaningful and productive work done. You’re now progressing in your business instead of just ticking tasks off as complete.
Focus on What Matters
Even large companies find it too risky to venture out of the familiar space they know. For your business, the best way to grow faster is to focus on a few key things that really matter.
No company, unless it’s centuries-old and has bottomless bank accounts and Jeff Bezos eying from a distance, can focus on more than five goals. They end up becoming unfocused, and worse than that; they become ineffective.
Instead, keep things realistic. What are the five or fewer goals that are most relevant to the success of your business? Concentrate your efforts and actions on the things within your control.
How to Know What to Cut Out
Owners often feel like they need to be performing a hundred different duties. And while it’s essential to be aware of your business’s aspects, it’s counterproductive to manage them all.
It can be hard to determine what’s not essential enough to take a back burner for months or years to come, but you can start by identifying which tasks to keep and which ones to get rid of. Take an inventory of all the tasks you perform daily over the week.
Afterward, look at this list and identify which recurring tasks are the most important. It’s inevitable that you’ll find two, three, or four important tasks, that you are uniquely qualified to do and that you enjoy doing.
The more you focus on these two to three tasks and the less focused you are on tasks that others can do better, the quicker and better your business will grow.
Know What the Customer Wants
How often have you looked at a product and thought, “Who could possibly use this?” And how often have you seen a product and a company flop because too much time and money was invested to provide a service that the customers never asked for in the first place?
Knowing what the customer wants is an imperative part of this operation. One wildly successful product is better than five failing ones. Think about how much that company could benefit from stopping that useless product or service and dedicating that money to create something that holds real value for the customer.
This is why you and your team should have a clear vision of what customers want from you.
Narrow Down Your Attention
Narrowing down your attention allows your top business growth opportunities to not only grow but thrive. You’ll get to cut your marginal business development tactics and reinvest that time– and money– into your best bets and opportunities.
You can narrow your attention to allow room for growth by asking yourself these questions: “What are three things that suck up resources that would otherwise be better invested elsewhere?” “What would you rather focus on?” and “What are three things that are unnecessary enough so that you can add it to your “stop doing” pile?”
To hunker down and decide to narrow the number of tasks, projects, and products your business is doing, you have to be choosier about the work you do. This translates as learning to say “No!” more often. Unless you’re looking to be burnout and face potential catastrophic failure down the line, you’re only handling a few manageable things.
Let’s say you’re developing a product—even a single one. You have research and development to think about, in addition to finance, distribution, sales, marketing, and more. Can you imagine taking on more at this point? Everything will become entangled and take too long to execute correctly.
Saying “no” every once in a while, especially if you’re spread too thin, saying it frequently is healthy. You may believe that you’re losing out on potential opportunities, but you’re just keeping to your priorities and principles.
The 80/20 Rule
In business, the 80/20 rule often gets brought up– and it’s for a good reason—the 80/20 rule saying that 20% of our tasks are responsible for 80% of the outcome. So once you have identified that 20% that are making the biggest impact, direct laser focus on them and reduce the time you spend on the other 80% that don’t hold as much weight.
How can you do that? We have your back!
You can start by setting objectives and key results: this will help you determine your priorities. Then you can think of the one metric that’s crucially important to your company. Everything you do from this moment forward should be with that metric in mind.
And finally, whenever some new, shiny new endeavor comes along, you know better than thinking any new endeavor is worth your time.
Just because your competition or even non-competitors that you observe are doing something, that doesn’t mean that you should do the same.
Everyone has different limits and resources. And you can’t possibly follow in their footsteps.
The chances are that you’re doing a lot of things well that they aren’t. When you try to copy someone else’s success and strategies, you’re just diluting and weakening what you already have and are done well. Focus on you, your company, resist the temptation and look internally at what will have the best impact on your business.
Don’t Do It Alone
No one ever achieves success alone for long. And it doesn’t matter how brilliant, savvy, or productive you are– everyone needs a partner. And businesses need partners who have a vested stake in your success.
When you work with the right partners, they’ll push you up to grow, and that can be in your business, career, and even personal life. A partner or several partners means that your focus can be on the things that you determined matter.
And the other things on the back burner can be picked up by someone else who might even do them better or faster than you are.
The concept of growing your business faster by doing fewer things better is the same as working smarter, not harder. How much time did Apple put into perfecting the iPhone?
They know that it’s their winning card, and every couple of years, they put out a new, improved version. They only started branching out when they were able to when they noticed the success of that one product and banked on its success.
What Is Snapreads?
With the Snapreads app, you get the key insights from the best nonfiction books in minutes, not hours or days. Our experts transform these books into quick, memorable, easy-to-understand insights you can read when you have the time or listen to them on the go.