Last month we examined ways in which customer service can be your most efficient, effective marketing tool. This month, we’ll address the power of focus—concentrating on fewer projects but making them pay off with higher returns.
While you may know from our monthly articles that Redline Media Group is experienced and knowledgeable in the development of marketing and advertising campaigns, we also help clients with focus and strategic planning to maximize the potential of their brands.
We believe that this issue’s article will provide insights into how you and your employees can do more to grow your business every day.
So you run your own business. That’s great! Economic development in Indian Country means that more and more businesses are being started and enjoying growth more than ever before. There’s no doubt you are interested in making your own business grow faster, right?
So here’s a question to ask yourself: How many avenues for new growth am I working on right now?
You might believe the correct answer would be, “Lots!” But before you commit to that, let’s think about the success of a company named by Fortune as “one of the world’s fastest growing companies,” and how the leader of that company felt about focus.
The company is Apple, and its leader, of course, was Steve Jobs. While addressing the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Jobs said: “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”
Think about this. If focus and saying no to good ideas were important to Steve Jobs and a company with the resources of Apple, how important should it be to you? If you are a small business owner, your resources are your most cherished asset and the most important among them is your time. If you spread yourself too thin, you also thin out your effectiveness with any single project or opportunity.
The Power of Focus is in Your Brain
You may believe differently. And it’s no wonder if you do. In today’s fast-paced modern world—with distractions such as phone calls, emails, texts, and “just a minute of your time” meetings—you may have grown to believe that your ability to multi-task is a big help. But many in modern medicine appear to believe you may be fooling yourself.
A psychiatrist and director of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health, Dr. Edward Hallowell, said, “Speed is the modern, natural high,” but that true multitasking is a myth.
“What people really do is shift their attention from one task to the next in rapid succession,” said Hallowell. “That reduces the quality of the work on any one task, because you’re ignoring it for milliseconds at a time.”
So while we may feel that we’re doing two—or more— things at once, it’s really an illusion. Instead we’re quickly switching our focus back and forth. The cerebral cortex—the part of the brain that handles allocating the mind’s resources—can only pay attention to one thing at a time. And there is a lag time of several tenths of a second each time the it switches, according to a study completed for the Federal Aviation Administration by the University of Michigan. Each switch takes up only a few tenths of a second—but lots of switches, or lots of multitasking—add up to big time inefficiencies.
Distraction is Dangerous
Multitasking at its core is really thinking while distracted. And, it’s absolutely proven that driving while distracted is dangerous. David Strayer, a University of Utah professor of psychology and expert on driver distraction, has found that talking on a cell phone while driving impairs your driving ability as much as someone who is legally drunk.
WebMD states that stress—including that imposed by yourself—can cause cortisol levels to spike in your bloodstream. Eventually, elevated cortisol levels can damage the “heart, cause high blood pressure, suppress the immune system, and make you susceptible to type 2 diabetes.”
Distraction is the opposite of focus. Think about what is most important to you and your business—and attending to that may prove to be better for your own health, as well as that of your business.
Focus is Powerful
Consider a little less diversifying, and a few less avenues for growth exploration. What is working best for you? What is the single most prosperous avenue for future growth? Can it work better with more emphasis—more focus—from you and your team? What areas of your business are the most profitable? And what will you refuse to focus on now that you have a new game plan?
Much like a magnifying glass can focus the rays of the sun on a narrow point—or a laser focuses a beam in the same way to be seen at great distances—more focus on a narrow front can work powerfully for you.
Work the most important, most profitable parts of your business with more focus, and you’ll see a big increase in your effectiveness. And that means higher customer satisfaction, higher profits, and more rapid growth.