Focus (Your Success Depends On It)

If you’re not building your product, you need to be selling it. Time is the only commodity that is not negotiable. Focus utilizes time. Discipline secures execution.

Starting a business can be a daunting experience. Simple administrative tasks can become black holes that relentlessly and silently suck up your time and energy. Before you know it, the day’s gone. When I started out, I found myself “at work” in front of my laptop for about ten hours per day, but the actual required daily tasks weren’t moving at the desired speed. How can this be? So, let’s talk about focus in relation to time.

The job of a founder can be compared to that of an air traffic controller minus the risk of placing human lives at risk. From the outside, it appears to be toxic chaos. From the inside, it can certainly feel like chaotic toxins infecting your mind and body, but in reality, it is more like an opera: managing multiple conflicting tasks at once resembles the theatric elements. Conducting calculated, frugal spending resembles the music. Once the music stops, the show’s over. It all happens at various speeds. Some days are incredibly busy. Others are credibly busy. For example, I found myself preparing a typical hour of my day that looked like this:

  1. 8:00-8:25 = Ideate Occupancy Model
  2. 8:25-8:40 = Write/Test Occupancy Model
  3. 8:40-9:00 = Coffee/Toilet Break

In reality, I would start ideating for about ten minutes, encounter a problem, research the problem for about twenty minutes, encounter another problem or twelve, and continue to research for about twenty minutes, only to realize that I lost almost an hour with research that does not contribute to the core product. Arguably, some problems need to be thoroughly researched, but I argue that shouldn’t take place during the ideation phase. It’s the sacred phase where your creative juices need to be flowin’ and growin’ your business. Always be mindful of the time and how you use it.

Here’s a story a close friend, fellow founder, and fellow nation-hopper/immigrant shared with me: “Sales is king”, he said. “If I would start a business today, I would focus on sales, sales, and sales.” His business fell prey to the global pandemic when investor money dried up in the heat of uncertainty. It couldn’t be sustained any longer without an outside influx of cash. He goes on to tell me “if you’re not building your product, you need to be selling it.” Building a business really comes down to those, two simple things. For most folks, building product can be a more attractive task. It’s predictable. It’s rewarding. For most folks, selling product can be a frightening task. It’s prone to rejection. It’s confrontation. Learning how to do both, and being equally excited to get to do both, is crucial for the survival of any business. Companies that are profitable are essentially financially independent. Isn’t financial independence a prime objective for any startup founder and business owner?

Now, I’m not concluding this with a profound takeaway. This isn’t hustle porn. I found solace in adopting a net-positive mindset. To me, net-positive means to be excited to get to build an awesome product and service. I know, this will not be forever, and soon I’ll have to move on to other tasks. It means, selling a product really is about connecting with people. It’s about the empowerment of my business and rejection is part of the business. In the long run, rejection will make it better because I got to experience it. Through all of it, focus will come.

This post originated on my substack Codifying Chaos.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.