You can do anything
But you can't do everything
Focus is underrated.
When I was doing undergraduate research, I read and study all the subjects in my area. Then my professor advisor said that if I want to finish my research and make a significant contribution, I would need to have more focus.
He was right, I was young and full of energy, but after focusing more on a specific problem to solve in my research, I got a few papers published.
I thought I would go into an academic career, doing a master's, and Ph.D. and becoming a university professor and researcher. However, I decided to give a try summer startup job in a Startup (PontoTel) in São Paulo and this changed my focus.
My focus was to learn everything about Startups and how to build one. This focus is paying off as I'm a co-founder of a fast-growing startup (Woovi).
When we say that you need to focus, it does not mean that you should not change your current focus. Smart people change their beliefs/thoughts/directions/focus when new information comes up. This is the Bayes’ Theorem. You should change your prior knowledge based on new information. This includes information about yourself, your objectives, and heartfelt goals.
Working on many things
After getting confident with the startup scene, a friend and I started our company as a software house, building software for other big companies. We saw that the software house business model wasn't scalable. Thus, we started building our first SaaS product, Feedback House a platform to manage teams for Human Resources.
Building software for others is easy, as you just need to deliver what they say to you. You don't need to think about product development.
As we were migrating to building our product, we were learning a lot about how to build our product. We made a lot of mistakes that I'd like to group as a lack of focus:
We decided to build 10 features simultaneously, instead of focusing on just one and iterating and making it perfect. In the end, we have 10 features that are not so good.
We decided to do very specific features for a few customers instead of building what most customers wanted. We were focusing more on customers that complained a lot in customer support, instead of customers that brought more revenue.
Our product was hard to sell because our sales team needs to sell 10 different types of products for small and big companies. Small and big companies have different sales approaches. Each product has different types of customers, so you can't have a simple sales framework.
Startup the right way
How do you focus on a Startup? MVP - Minimum Viable Product.
You reduce the scope of what you are working on until you can deliver some value to your customer. You build fewer features instead of more. Likewise, you have one product to sell. Not only that, but you have one type of customer. You iterate. It may feel strange, especially when founders have a much broader vision. Don't worry though: this is all good news for your business and creates a culture of focus that you will need in order to grow
Each new feature should have its own mini MVP. What is the fastest and cheapest way to deliver this to the customer?
You focus on customers that will bring more revenue in the long term. You focus on customer-requested features that aligned with your vision.
Thinking about Startups a lot lately?
If you are building a startup with focus, send me your pitch deck on my Twitter (@sseraphini).
I can help you with product development and funding.
You can do anything, but you can't do everything