SI Forum: Company Focus

Quick Summary: The lack of market focus is probably the number one reason that startups fail.


In an attempt to be wildly successful or just to earn enough revenue to stay in business, many startups attempt to sell their offering to anyone in any market that might, in their opinion, be remotely interested.  Although this approach may result in many first meetings wth prospects, there is little likelihood that a startup will gain enough insight to create an offering that moves past the general interest stage to a customer order.  Failure is almost assured with this approach.

As described in article 8.050101, the Startup Insights Forum program consists of interactive discussion sessions on pre-announced subjects.    The attendees have a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences including first-time entrepreneurs to seasons startup veterans, as well as coaches and service providers.  They all share one thing in common:  interest in all phases of the entrepreneur/startup ecosystem.  The open-dialogue, informal format provides all participants with the opportunity to share their experiences and ask for guidance from others.

Forum subjects are summaries of the content contained in the website articles.  The website is a collection of over 610 short articles covering a wide range of subjects for entrepreneurs and company managers.  Typically, a two-sided, one-page handout is provided to participants at each Forum session.  The handouts consist of outline notes on the topic and a list of relevant articles from the CxO-Atlas website that may be of follow-up interest to the participants. Occasionally, a PowerPoint presentation is used.  The PDF file session notes can be downloaded by all registered CxO-Atlas website users by clicking on the links included below.  The handouts are in the form of bulleted notes that may be of limited value to the reader.  During the sessions, the bulleted notes are used to prompt discussions among the participants. 

The session topics are divided into four categories.  This article contains the notes in the Company Focus category. The lack of company focus, characterized by entrepreneurs/startups attempting to be “all things to all people,” is probably the number one reason that new companies fail.  With their fear of missing an opportunity, they attempt to respond to every opportunity that they feel they can possibly satisfy with visions of serving the envisioned Total Imaginable Market.  In most cases, instead of serving “everyone,” they end up serving “no one.”  Instead of focusing on “the” market, they should focus on “a” market; learn from it and then move on.

Below is a summary of the Forum Notes included in this category.

2020 Trends to Think About

As the Greek Philosopher, Heraclitus, said in 500 BC, “The only constant is change.”  2020 will continue this 2,500 plus year trend. There will continue to be an almost limitless number of opportunities for creative entrepreneurs to take advantage of this changing environment as there have been in the past.  Similarly, some of the trends can be thought of as thunder in the distance, predicting rough times ahead.  Thinking about likely trends, both good and bad, for your business and taking action accordingly is the prudent approach to take.  Every enterprise and entrepreneur needs to embrace technology and plan on being part of or caught up in disruptive changes.

Dancing For the Stars

Attend any pitch competition and watch the partners and employees of the venture capital firms in attendance be treated like stars.  It is inevitable because of the Startup Golden Rule: “He who has the gold makes the rules.”  The reality is that less than one percent of startups receive venture funding and even with it, only a very small percentage are successful.  Instead of working on pitches, work on your core business and delight customers.

The Entrepreneur’s Four Horsemen

At the risk of being sacrilegious to the Book of Revelation in the Christian Bible, there are Four Horsemen of the Entrepreneur’s Apocalypse.  In this context, apocalypse is defined as an event involving the destruction or damage on an awesome scale.  To an outsider, “destruction on an awesome scale” may seem to be overstated.  But to the entrepreneur that sees their startup dream fail, it is not an overstatement.  The entrepreneur’s four horsemen, in order are: Lack of focus, lack of execution, lack of prospects, and lack of cash.

Force Multiplication: Getting Others to Help Carry the Load

For virtually every entrepreneur and small company, there appears to be far more things that need to be done than there is time or money to do them.  Working harder or longer hours is seldom the answer.  Over time, important issues will go unaddressed, leading to serious or fatal problems.  The key to success is to get others to help.  Available resources are, in fact, available.  The key to finding them is to first realize that more of the same will not yield something different – only more of the same.  Start by asking who could help me do this? Answering that simple question can reveal resources that are readily available; all you need to do is ask.

Movin’ On Up

It is natural for new companies to want to begin to sell to larger, more established companies after they have gained a foothold with smaller companies.  In many instances, the success equation may vary considerably.  Many companies make the transition, but, unfortunately, many do not.  The key to success is understanding the differences and modifying the approach or offering accordingly.

One Entrepreneur, Two MVPs, and Three Phases of Discovery

The acronym MVP means Minimum Viable Product in the startup community and Most Valuable Player in sports bars.  To the entrepreneur attempting to gain traction and build a successful business, both MVPs are important.  However, getting candid and objective advice from a Most Valuable Player during the Problem, Prospect, and Customer discovery phases will help ensure that the Minimum Viable Product fulfills its goals.

Article Number : 8.041002   

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