Earlier this month an entrepreneur was referred to me and we had an amazing conversation where she asked me to coach her.
Awww so flattering (seriously it was flattering) because I love serving entrepreneurs and I LOVED her business.
But here was the thing… errr …things….
#1: She wasn't my perfect client. Since I've made the commitment to work within my ‘zone of brilliance’ (helping growth-focused service entrepreneurs build a highly profitable, scalable, and predictable businesses), so many different kinds of potential clients have been reaching out. The Universe certainly has a twisted sense of humor!
#2: She wanted to pay me a tidy sum to work with her and was ready to write the check (a five-figure amount).
#3: I KNEW her big problem and I also KNEW someone else who was better qualified to help her with what she needed.
#4: I KNEW that taking on this client would require a ton of extra work on my part because it was just far enough outside of my core competency that it would require me to invest extra time and energy getting up to speed on a few things.
#5: I KNEW that saying “yes” would feel good and be interesting, BUT it would also prevent me from gaining momentum with my main area of focus.
As you can guess from the title of this post…I turned her down.
Now you might be thinking THAT IS FREAKING CRAZY. You just walked away from a five-figure coaching client and you didn't say “yes” because it wasn’t a 100% fit?
And I say to you… yes, it does feel crazy. Yes, I wanted to help this woman and her business but at what cost to me and to her? And, yes, I could have used the money. But I am super happy about the decision to step away (zero regrets).
Why? (and why am I sharing this story with you?)
Because when you are focused on creating ONE RESULT, for ONE TYPE OF CLIENT that you love to help, with ONE PRODUCT/SERVICE that you can build your business around, any amount of time and energy spent outside of this will slow you down and keep you stuck in a perpetual state of hustle.
Am I telling you to turn down opportunities left and right?
LOL…no, not necessarily but what I am saying is that spreading your focus too thin will dilute your ability to become well known for doing one thing really well.
Why is it so important to focus on doing one thing really well?
HA… I’m glad you asked.
This is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from developing a coaching and consulting business over the past 5+ years.
Too many irons in the fire leads to lack of focus, lots of hustling, and mediocre business results at best.
Who do you think has an easier go of it?
- The designer who takes on any project she can get?
- Or, the designer who focuses exclusively on working with craft beer companies to design the most innovative labels?
- The relationship coach who helps anyone that’s facing dating issues, marriage problems, or anything else under the sun?
- Or, the relationship coach that helps married couples to build trust, improve their communication skills, and be the happiest they’ve ever been in their marriage?
I hope the answers are obvious.
Building a highly profitable, predictable, and scalable service business requires focus – doing one thing really well, maybe better than anyone else, and then leveraging this in a congruent and focused way.
THE biggest failure I see with entrepreneurs today is a lack of focus. Focus is a discipline, a muscle, and if you don’t practice it then it’s going to atrophy your business.
Right now, for instance, the reason I’m writing this is because I am sitting in my office, with email turned off and I’ve blocked off an hour to write this newsletter.
It’s only happening through extreme focus because, contrary to what you might think, I don’t just sit down and have content magically spill onto the page.
It takes work. It takes focus.
Each month I have a specific outcome that I want and then I have objectives that I must hit to create that outcome.
Too many entrepreneurs have so many outcomes, so many different directions and projects… that they can’t even think clearly. There’s always too much to do.
This is a failure in their ability to FOCUS.
One past client comes to mind. As soon as he’d get one thing sort of working, he’d stop and start something else.
He would just start to build momentum in his business and then he would begin chasing another project that would kill all the momentum he had just created.
Because he didn’t grasp the importance of focus.
And just to be clear, a lack of focus doesn’t prevent you from making money… it simply prevents you from gaining real traction, growing into a real business, and making A LOT of money.
When I first started coaching, I was also blogging, podcasting, thinking about creating a course, doing a little bit of speaking here and there, etc. And I never really got any momentum until a mentor told me very bluntly, “Michael, until you focus 100% of your energy on building a thriving coaching business, you will continue to distract yourself with things that will prevent you from building a thriving coaching business.”
And she was right!
This person challenged me to stop writing blog posts, newsletters, recording podcasts, and just focus on inviting potential clients to have a valuable conversation so that I could get comfortable with asking questions, hearing about problems that people were having, and practicing the act of coaching.
My goal was to have 100 conversation in 90 days. And you know what? At the end of 90 days I had spoken to 68 people and 13 of them asked me to be their coach.
Focus is boring as hell. It’s unsexy. You’ll constantly have new ideas that you want to pursue, but you must set boundaries around your entrepreneurial desire for variety.
A lot of us look around and say “I’m missing something, I’m missing something. Everyone is doing podcasts, YouTube Channels, blogs, newsletters, speaking, writing books, and that must be why I’m not doing $20k/mo… why can’t I do those things?”
Doing too many things at the same time will kill you (and your business). The problem, most of the time, is that you’re doing too much. If you cut out most of your activities, and only focus on the activities that are truly important, your workload decreases and your bank account increases.
Every. Single. Time.