About 18 years ago, I received advice that transformed my view on business and the trajectory of my career.
A partner and I were launching a technology startup offering an application integration platform. It was a horizontal play, and we were chasing pretty much any prospect who would listen to us. We in the late stages of large opportunities at Nike, Public Storage, Gates Rubber Company, LaBranche (a market maker on the NYSE), and GFInet (an interdealer broker).
I asked my friend Vic Ahmed to take a look at what we were doing and help us figure out how to grow the company. He said we needed to focus.
“Did you ever set twigs on fire with a magnifying glass?” he asked.
“It won’t work unless you focus the magnified sunlight to get the smallest dot of light possible. The same is true for business. You need to choose the smallest niche possible and focus all your energy there.”
We took his advice and walked away from everything except the two financial services prospects. We started chasing deals in a very small niche, and our business started to take off. In 3 years, we were recognized as a Fast 50 Rising Star, we had achieved significant awareness in our niche, and we raised an over-subscribed Series A round of funding.
Focus. For a small business or technology startup, it’s essential.
- It’s easier to build brand awareness.
- It’s easier to message to the target audience.
- It’s easier to train a sales team.
- It’s easier to develop a competitive product.
- It’s easier to deliver a great customer experience.
- It’s easier to leverage word of mouth.
- It’s easier to increase customer retention and lifetime customer value.