Are You Breaking The Law of Focus? Learn From My Mistake

“Man who chases two rabbits, catches neither”
– Confucius

This is My Story
When opportunity comes knocking at your door, sometimes it’s best not to answer.

Four years ago I made the decision to lose focus. My business, The Marketing Spot, was a small, growing company less than three years old. But in April of 2004, I decided that instead of running one business, I should run two. So I began publishing the Waco Real Estate Source, a free real estate magazine for buyers. It was a decision that has cost me time and money.

Flickr photo by irene nobrega

Oh, everything was fantastic at first. And exciting! I had something new to sell, a tangible product. People called me to advertise in my magazine. It was distributed all over town and people saw my name in print as the local publisher.

I started hearing, “Hey, you’re the Source Guy.” Yes, and no. Really, I was The Marketing Guy, not The Source Guy. Real estate publishing wasn’t my dream. It had nothing to do with the vision of the company.

“Only when it’s too late does a company turn around and notice that they have become unfocused, perhaps precariously so.”
Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It by Al Ries

What it Cost Me
“Look at me! I’m a serial entrepreneur.” Or maybe I was just full of myself.

Fast forward to one year ago. In the summer of 2007 I was flying high. My business was more profitable than it had ever been. It seemed my juggling act was working! But there was something waiting just out of sight to knock the balls out of my hands. It was called the mortgage crisis.

When the subprime roof came caving in, I was still in the house. Real Estate Source advertisers started dropping like flies. I quickly lost 25% of my business. More was on the way. But I couldn’t spend additional time with The Source to replace lost revenue. Half my time was already spent on The Marketing Spot. I couldn’t focus.

By November 2007, I was losing money. Not with the Real Estate Source, but as a company. Two halves did not make a whole. Each passing month brought another loss. It was a death spiral for the business and I had to jump off to survive.

So as of June 2008, I am no longer The Source Guy. Thank God.

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”
Matthew 6:24

What I learned
Breaking the Law of Focus is an exercise in opportunity cost. Now that I am able to focus on the original vision of the company, I can complete projects that have been on the drawing board for some time. Sitting on my “to-do list” are video and online marketing training programs for small businesses, an ebook, plus two books I am planning to write.

I learned a lot while publishing the real estate magazine. But just because you are learning, or networking, and even making money, doesn’t make it right. My dream got clouded, my vision got fuzzy.

“Only when you focus a company or brand over an extended period of time do you develop a powerful company whose future success is almost guaranteed.”
Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It by Al Ries

Stay Focused
Maybe you are not trying to run two businesses. That doesn’t mean you’re focused.

Are you sending out more than one marketing message? Is your brand picture cloudy? Are you trying to be all things to all people? If so, then you are breaking the Law of Focus. It will cost you.

By focusing on the one thing that will define your business, you open a path that leads to your vision. And you avoid the frustration that comes from chasing two rabbits.

Believe me, I know. Learn from my pain.

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  1. […] I wrote about that experience here: Are You Breaking the Law of Focus? […]

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