Anyone who knows me knows that I have 500 ideas going through my head at any given moment. I’m creative (sometimes scattered), resourceful (occasionally scrappy), and spontaneous (a little unpredictable). Most creative, entrepreneurial types are like this. We have no shortage of ideas—ideas that we just know are all brilliant by the way—but we have a real shortage of follow-through.
Having new ideas is an excellent advantage in business. But when you act on all of your ideas, you dilute your efforts. You reduce your efficiency and ability to grow one business well while confusing the heck out of your customers!
It doesn’t start out with four or five or fifteen business ideas, of course. It usually starts with just one thing. You’re passionate about photography, so you invest in a quality, consumer camera and start practicing. You take some prom photos for your kids and friends of your kids, word spreads, and you start to charge a fee for friends of friends of friends.
In several months’ time, you’ve really got something going. You’re booking senior pictures, engagement photos, maybe even weddings. You love seeing your little business grow!
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In keeping a blog for your photography website, you discover that you like writing. So you think, maybe I should start a separate blog and try to market that!
You took sewing lessons as a kid, and you have your grandma’s old sewing machine up in the attic. You see other women having success by sewing quilts and selling them on Etsy and think, I could do that.
Your neighbors rent out their spare room on Airbnb, and you already know you’re the hostess with the most-est, so obviously you gotta get in on that!
Individually, any one of these pursuits would be worthwhile. And the truth is that your list of talents is probably very long. The list of options of what you could do with those talents is also very long. But just because you can do something does not mean you should. Every opportunity is not the right opportunity for you.
I know it’s hard to resist doing everything. Trust me, I fight this urge daily! It’s especially tough because our culture encourages busyness like it’s a sign of great ambition. But if you chase everything, you end up doing a lot of things and none of them well. If your resources are pulled in too many different directions, you’ll wind up scattered and unsuccessful, and on top of that, your family and friends will miss you.
I’m not saying you can only pursue one talent in your life. But if you focus on the one thing you’re really good at and passionate about, you’re setting yourself up to win.
Even the most successful companies know this. Chick-fil-A doesn’t sell hamburgers. Starbucks doesn’t publish magazines (although they tried, and failed, in 1999).
Last year, Victoria’s Secret stopped selling everyday clothing in their catalogues, and next year, they’re exiting the swimwear business. Why? Because those products aren’t their bread and butter.
Instead of chasing every brilliant idea that pops into your head, figure out what you want to be known for and be that. Focus on what your core business (read: singular business!) is about and put your effort there. When you do this, you minimize the chance of becoming overwhelmed and maximize the possibility of seeing your idea through.